August 2011

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.

The team, the economy and the schedule all stunk. This looked to be the year when the Cubs’ winning streak at the turnstiles would snap.

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.


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.

The folks in the fine city of Park Ridge (Maine East, represent!) have found their window to try and remove the "Jim Hendry Way" signs that Cub fan and all-around criminal Rod Blagojevich put up on Northwest Highway. 

Schmidt said the request is nothing personal against Hendry, a Park Ridge resident, but the city never wanted the signs mounted in the first place.

Schmidt later added that he can't believe Hendry signed Milton Bradley while putting on his White Sox hat.

Speaking of Park Ridge, back around 2005, Jim Hendry walked into my Dad's bicycle shop in Park Ridge on Devon Avenue. My Dad, never a shy fella, immediately let it be known that his son writes for some website on the Internet about the Cubs. For whatever reason, Hendry didn't immediately bolt out of the place, but made some joke about how he hopes I write nothing but nice things. I can't be sure if my Dad would have even known the name of the website. As anyone who has met my father over the years would expect, he sold two kids bikes to Hendry (no, Hendry did not overpay) and scored Hendry's cell phone number out of it with the promise that if I ever wanted tickets, just ring him up. I think I went to the well about two times over the years, a game in San Francisco in late 2005 that I wrote about here and another in L.A. in 2006, which I believe was the infamous Derrek Lee wrist break game, although I went to two games that series and can't recall which one I paid for and which I didn't.

There's not much I can relate about my two brief phone calls with Hendry, the first was more enjoyable than the second as the meeting with my Dad was fresher in Hendry's mind. I just recall both times the cell reception being poor on his end and the sense of a man that had more important things to do. By the second call, the rules changed where you were taxed on giving away free tickets and he made it clear to me that was a bit of an issue if I wanted more than one game. Being a man that just prefers to pay his own way, I decided it best not to trouble him anymore after that point. There were many times that I considered how I'd approach him about doing an interview for TCR, but for various reasons that never happened and as time passed, I just presumed he wouldn't know who I am, nor can I be sure where the phone number is in my house.

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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.

While Pena is now on track to be a Type B free agent and there's certainly plenty of value in the possibility of getting a supplemental round pick for him (although no sure thing), there's probably more value at the moment in saving the $5.5M or so he's owed, regardless of the prospects they may get back.

Possible Correction: It seems there's a bit of a confusion that if Pena is just given away, the Cubs could still be on the hook for the $5M in deferred money. Not sure why it works that way or how, but that's the current rumor by MLB Trade Rumors and Arizona Phil.

Update: Rosenthal tweets:

Pena claimed, but #Cubs likely to pull him back. Need 1B for 2012, want to keep options open. Did not get good offers before 7/31.

Considering Hendry's claim that he didn't want to make too many deals before the deadline, hopefully the thinking has changed.

Update #2 from Rosenthal:

#Cubs Pena has 5M deferred, payable 1/12. If trade occurred, Cubs would pay pro-rated portion - almost all. Again, deal unlikely.

This has gotten about 90% less exciting than it was an hour ago. My math tells me then that the claiming team would be on the hook for about $1.67M if the Cubs just let him go.

Update #3 from Jon Heyman says it was the Yankees. I assume they're just happy to take on the money then.

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.

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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. 


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.

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.

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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.

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.

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).   


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...

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)

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.

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.

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.  


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.  


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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.

 

Even the most jaded, bitter Cub Fan could find joy in Tony Campana's inside the park home run yesterday.

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.

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.”

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