Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs 2011 season is officially over.


Here is the I-Cubs roster as of today, and the post-2011 status of the players:


(CLICK ON PLAYER'S NAME FOR 2011 STATS)


The Iowa Cubs will play their 2009 home opener tonight after completing a 5-3 road trip with an 8-7 win yesterday in Albuquerque.

Early on the story is the booming bat of Jake Fox, who's filling the shoes of Micah Hoffpauir and then some. So far he's hitting a robust .516 with a video game OPS of 1.676. Extrapolations of Fox's torrid start over a season's course, always fun in April, lead to some numbers of federally stimulating proportions. Were he to maintain his soul-sold-to-the-devil paces and NOT be recalled, Fox would rack up, for instance, 70 homers, 280 R'sBI and, gulp, 595 total bases.

I can't wait to get to the ballpark tonight and see how his road show plays in Des Moines.

Jake isn't the only Fox off to a fast start. Chad has racked up four straight scoreless outings out of the bullpen and recorded a save in yesterday's win.

Jose Ascanio is transitioning nicely from relief work to the rotation with two scoreless starts, each lasting four innings, as he stretches out to higher pitch counts. Ascanio has issued just one walk against eight strikeouts.

Jeff Samardzija had a lackluster two-inning stint out of the pen in the season opener but followed that with four shutout frames in his first start of the year later on the trip. He'll start again over the weekend and I plan to be there for a good look. He says he's throwing three sorts of fastballs now, along with his slider and a changeup that's the big work in progress. Samardzija reports throwing it several times in his last outing for strikes and says it's coming along. He threw 62 pitches last time out and will be rationed to about 75 on Saturday night en route to a routine workload in excess of 100.

Mitch Atkins has struggled in his two starts thus far, allowing 15 hits and 14 runs in just nine innings.

At the plate, CF Sam Fuld has played the best supporting role behind leading man Fox out of the leadoff spot.

April 17th sounds just about right for a midwest opening night and, sure enough, it looks like the I-Cubs have caught a break from the weatherman for a change. Afternoon highs in the low 70's are expected to give way to a comfortable evening. Unlike Ascanio and Samardzija, I think I have a good shot at going the distance my first time out...MW

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Rich Harden threw four shutout innings and Welington Castillo's two run home run capped a five-run 5th, as the Iowa Cubs (Cubs AAA affiliate) edged the Sacramento River Cats (Oakland A's AAA affiliate) 5-4 before an unusually large Minor League Camp crowd of 50+ at cool & breezy Fitch Park Field #3 this afternoon

Cubs Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild and Assistant Pitching Coach Lester Strode were in attendance, and the place was absoluely crawling with beat writers, bloggers, and assorted Cubs fans intent on watching an actual Cubs major league pitcher throw on a day when the big club had the day off, and they were not disappointed.

However, very few stayed for the whole game. 

So for those of you who want to know how Harden looked, but also just HAVE to know how the Iowa Cubs did it,.. here is... the... rest...of... the... story...

I started a thread regarding the Sun-Times article this morning stating that many of the Cubs September call-ups may be delayed as the Iowa Cubs clinched the playoffs. The I-Cubs will host the Oklahoma RedHawks (Texas Rangers AAA affiliate) starting Sept 3rd in a best of 5 game series. The debate over what value the AAA playoffs bring vs getting a September reward as a call-up for a contending team doesn't get my debating shoes polished but it's interesting to see how the Cubs brass is going to handle this issue.

From the Gordon Wittenmyer notes:

The Class AAA Iowa Cubs are back in the playoffs for the first time in four years, and one small ramification at the big-league level is that a few anticipated September roster additions might stay with Iowa through its playoff series.

The exceptions: Pitchers Jon Lieber (foot) and Angel Guzman (elbow) are expected to be activated from the DL when rosters expand, and lefty hitter Micah Hoffpauir, who's having a monster season, is expected to join the big club right away.

I suppose getting Lieber is an upgrade on last year where Hendry dropped AAA talent on the Orioles for a near worthless Steve Traschel. Angel Guzman just might be another solid compliment in our bullpen. Micah Hoffpauir, well there is a big fan club out there rooting for some September Hoff-Power.

The biggest addition might not get up here until after the AAA playoffs. This is when Koyie Hill gets the call-up to add 5 mph to the pitching staff's fastballs. That's "Serious" music to my ears.

 

Expecting to see the enigmatic Rich Hill make a not so triumphant return to the scene of some of his finest professional work, I headed to the ballpark last night planning to call it a night whenever he did.

He only lasted five innings but I stayed for a sixth when it was assigned to Scott Eyre.

The battery in the starting lineup was Hill squared, and after three innings it was hard to say whose arm was more impressive, the left of Rich or the right of Koyie. At that point Rich had fanned three but Koyie had thrown out a man stealing and picked another off of second.

For the record, Rich Hill allowed seven hits and two runs while walking one and striking out five on the night. I had him for 47 strikes among his 78 pitches, but left with other less quantifiable impressions of his work.

Hill's misses weren't close. The 'balls' he threw were so flagrant that the batter was rarely tempted by them.

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I delayed my end-of-homestand post for a day so I could see how Sean Gallagher followed up on his brilliant outing from last week.

The results? Mixed.

Gallagher retired the first ten Fresno hitters he faced. He entered the sixth having surrendered only one run and retired the first two routinely before an infield single dripped from the faucet. A stolen base followed, then an intentional walk, then an accidental walk and Gallagher called it a night, leaving the bases loaded and the water running for Carmen Pignatiello.

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The season here in Des Moines has had a hard time getting started this year. Bad weather, bad team and bad schedule; you're out!

Yesterday was an exception.

Sean Gallagher served up a tasty lunch in a nooner matinee at Principal Park on one of the very few days so far when the elements didn't cross-up the schedule makers.

After seven innings Gallagher had thrown 86 pitches, allowing one run on three hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts. All 12 K's were swinging, most of them on a nasty breaking ball.

His pitch counts by inning were as follows: 11, 13,13, 14, 16, 9 and 10.

They trotted him back out for the eighth, the only frame when he failed to fan anybody. He walked the leadoff man, erased him on a DP grounder, gave up a base hit and called it a day after 101 mostly carveaceous, to coin a word, pitches.


...350 miles west of Chicago on I-80, Mike Wellman keeps tabs on the Iowa Cubs in the PCL...


Living here in Des Moines I've always gotten a kick out of the local team playing in the Pacific Coast League. I guess that makes the portion of the 'road to Wrigley' that runs through here the Pacific Coast Highway. Here's my dispatch after the season's first homestand.

Of the eight games scheduled four were lost to opponents, three were lost to Mother Nature [one of which was reclaimed as the front end of a day/night doubleheader] and two went into the win column.

The team now heads to Nashville for a four-game set with the [micro] Brewers as the I-Cubs and Sounds resume their subsidiary version of the growing rivalry between Chicago and Milwaukee.

It's hard to glean much from the limited six-game sample, very little of which was played in conditions conducive to baseball, but here are some early trends that will bear watching as the season unfolds:

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Sean Marshall was supposed to start for the Iowa Cubs tonight against Albuquerque in Des Moines. Instead he's on his way to Pittsburgh, exchanging roster spots with Carmen Pignatiello. Apparently Lou Piniella huffed and puffed and blew 'Piggy' back to the minors after the southpaw showed his appreciation for making the big club by walking both hitters he faced in Monday's 10-8 torture tilt.

Four games into their season-opening eight game homestand the Iowa Cubs are off to a sputtering 1-3 start.

THE GOOD NEWS: Both Seans [Marshall and Gallagher], Neal Cotts, Eric Patterson and Matt Murton.

THE BAD NEWS: Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld and Matt Murton.

Marshall started the opener and retired all nine batters he faced, six of them on strikes, as he pitch-counts his way back from an ill-advised audition for a spot in the Chicago bullpen.

The next night Gallagher tossed five economical innings, allowing only two hits and a run with one walk and five strikeouts.

Cotts went two perfect innings and fanned three in his only appearance so far.

In Saturday's day-night doubleheader you might say that Patterson rode a tandem cycle. After notching a single and a double in the matinee, he spanked a triple down the left-field line and pulled a homer over the scoreboard in right in the nightcap. He's been playing at second base.

Murton makes both lists because he's hit safely in every game and drawn a couple of walks to open at a .357/.471 clip, but all five hits are singles. He's scored once without driving in a run.

Hoffpauir tweaked an oblique in an exhibition tilt versus the University of Iowa and headed straight back to Arizona. He's expected back in another week or so.

Fuld is on the active roster but has played in only one of the first four games, going 1-4 when he patrolled CF in the opener of Saturday's DH. Probably not coincidentally, the weather Saturday afternoon offered easily the best playing conditions of the week.

Mark Holliman starts tonight in the opener of a four-game set with Albuquerque.

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