AZL Cubs Check Out Small Ball Book at Sloan Park

Varonex Cuevas reached base four times (three singles and a walk), stole two bases, and scored a run, leading the AZL Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the AZL Angels in Arizona League action Thursday night at Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ. 

The Cubs did most of their damage in the bottom of the 6th inning, using "small ball" to plate three runs and take a 4-1 lead.

Jose Paniagua led-off the inning by drawing a rare (for him) walk, and advanced to 2nd base on a Varonex Cuevas bunt single. Roberto Caro laid down the first of what would be eventually two sacrifice bunts for him in the game to advance the runners to 2nd & 3rd,  and then 18-year old AZL Cubs shortstop Andruw Monasterio looped a single into short right to score Paniagua and move Cuevas up to 3rd. Monasterio and Cuevas then pulled-off a picture-perfect double steal, with Monasterio breaking for 2nd base to draw a throw (he was safe at 2nd), while Cuevas waited to break for home until he saw the throw go through to 2nd. Monasterio took off for 3rd base on the very next pitch (and he would have had 3rd base stolen easily, too), but Tyler Payne rocketed a line drive just past Monasteriio's ear into LF, as Monasterio continued around 3rd base to score the third run of the inning. Payne was then picked-off 1st base by the Angels pitcher (Payne was frozen like a deer-in-headlights two steps from 1st base, and so he took off for 2nd, but the slow-footed catcher was out by a mile).   

LHP Manny Rondon got the start for the Cubs, facing his former AZL Angels teammates for the first time. (Rondon was acquired from the Angels in a trade for catcher Rafael Lopez earlier this month). And not too surprisingly he came out firing from the gitgo, working his fastball consistently at 94 MPH (he hadn't thrown harder than 91-93 in previous ouitings) and mixing it with a hard-breaking curve. Being a bit hyped-up, Rondon did have some command problems, issuing three walks and hitting a batter, but he also struck out four while allowing only one run on four hits (all singles) in 5.0 IP. Rondon threw 85 pitches (52 strikes) over his five innings of work, the most pitches I have ever seen a non-rehabbing pitcher throw in an AZL game. 

To the best of my knowledge, Rondon is only the second pitcher acquired in a trade by the Cubs who went directly from one AZL team to the AZL Cubs during the AZL season. The last one (and the only other one I can recall) was 19-year old fireballing 6'3 280+ RHP Jose Ceda, acquired from San Diego for veteran INF Todd Walker on July 31, 2006. Ceda moved from the AZL Padres to the AZL Cubs after the trade.

Here is the abridged box score from Thursday night's game (AZL Cubs players only): 

1. Robert Garcia, RF: 1-3 (P-6, K, BB, 1B)
2. Carlos Sepulveda, 2B: 1-1 (HBP, 2B, BB, 3-U SH, R, SB)
3. P. J. Higgins, 3B: 1-4 (2B, 6-3, 6-4 FC, 5-3, RBI)
4. Jose Paniagua, 1B: 0-3 (K, F-9, BB, K, R) 
5. Varonex Cuevas, DH: 3-3 (BB, 1B, 1B, 1B, R, 2 SB)
6. Roberto Caro, CF: 1-2 (4-6 FC, 1B, 1-4 SH, 1-3 SH) 
7. Andruw Monasterio, SS: 1-4 (K, P-4, 1B, 6-3, RBI), SB)
8, Tyler Payne, C: 1-3 (6-3, 5-3, 1B, BB, RBI, PO)
9. Donnie Cimino, LF: 0-4 (L-7, K, 6-3, F-9) 

1. Manny Rondon: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP, 1 GIDP, 3/6 GO/FO, 85 pitches (52 strikes) 
2. Trey McNutt: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 0/3 GO/FO, 16 pitches (11 strikes) 
3. John Williamson: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 19 pitches (11 strikes) 
4. Luis Hernandez: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 2/1 GO/FO, 32 pitches (22 strikes) 


Tyler Payne: 1-2 CS 

1. Carlos Sepulveda was thrown out 7-6-5 attempting to stretch double into triple in the 3rd inning
2. Varonex Cuevas was thrown out 9-2 attempting to score from 2nd base on single to RF in the 4th inning
3. Tyler Payne was picked-off 1st base in the 6th inning


Yaz? Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN 13s13 seconds ago There is some speculation within the industry about a possible BOS/Cubs/Padres three-way blockbuster taking shape. Lots of pieces that fit. 0 retweets 0 favorites

Not a lot of time to finished a 3-team trade with lots of pieces, but John from the Cubs Den noted that the Red Sox have scouted Baez.

cubs getting dan harren from the marlins because...i dunno. he has a pulse.

Dan Haren?

Haha. Well said guys. I agree btw. Ho hum. Literally just a veteran who might eat a couple innings.

Better Haren than Beeler/Richard.

haren supposedly for a minor league IF'r and RHP. also, there's mixed signals on the cubs/pads front about whether things are moving quickly or grinding to a halt. personal speculation...haren's here to make hendricks expendable in a trade because he's the only SP worth a damn (and a known commodity) anywhere close to 2016 MLB-ready now that cj edwards seems to be a pen guy.

I'd say it's rather that Hendricks stays and Haren is the fifth starter.

either way, the cubs are now the owners of a 86mph throwing dan haren. pray for the wind to be blowing in on every start.

CRUNCH: I agree with you. Acquiring Dan Haren and yet still being reportedly in pursuit of Tyson Ross or Carlos Carrasco must mean that Kyle Hendricks is one of the players being offered to SD and CLE. 

Very interesting. That would not have occurred to me crunch and AZPhil. I say they don't deal Hendricks and are just being conservative. But I kind of hope you guys are right because it's exciting.

Even on the road?

Fish getting Juan Pinyero (Ivan's brother?) and Elliot Soto. Seems like we traded them one Pinyero didn't work out well.

im not a haren fan because he's pretty much a mid-80s fastball and a low-80s cutter...and he's prone to giving up the longball even though he's actually inducing a good amount of ground balls. still, not much was lost in this trade worth caring about. pineyro has some decent upside with his pitch mix and youth, but he projects to be an end-rotation starter at best anyway. he's also rule5 eligable and it's a diceroll that the cubs would have him on the 40-man with all the talent to protect this offseason. soto's just a bench guy or "AAAA" fodder at best...practically no power, not much speed, decent D at SS/2nd.

Ivan=Juan=John I think there may also be a Jovan Pineyro, a Jean Pineyro, a Johannes Pineyro, a Giovanni Pineyro, an Ian Pineyro and an Evan Pineyro. The Marlins can have them all. He's changed his passport so many times now, he don't know what he looks like

ArizonaPhil. On another board, someone posted Rule 40 (a)(3), which he claims says that in order to be eligible for the post season roster, they must be on the 25 man roster on August 31. This seems to be contrary to your article, although I may well be misreading it. Are you familiar with the above rule?

DAVID P: The rule was changed last year.


Here are the current (2015) MLB post-season roster eligibility rules:

A club's Active List (25-man roster) must be submitted to the MLB Commissioner prior to the start of each post-season series (LDS, LCS, and World Series).

1. A player who received a Prohibited Substance Suspension prior to the start of Spring Training, during Spring Training, during the regular season, or during a post-season series (Wild Card, LDS, LCS, or World Series), is ineligible to play in any MLB or minor league post-season game(s) or series in that season, even if the player has completed serving the suspension.

2. All other players on a club's MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), MLB 60-day DL, and Restricted List (extended Bereavement, Family Medical Emergency, or Paternity Leave ONLY) prior to midnight (Eastern) on August 31st are eligible to be included on a post-season Active List (25-man roster), but a player on an MLB club's Disabled List (7-day, 15-day, or 60-day), Bereavement List, Medical Emergency List, or Paternity List is eligible to be included on a post-season Active List only after spending the minimum number of days required to be served by a player on that list.

3. Any player on the Disqualified List, Ineligible List, or Restricted List (for any reason other than extended Bereavement, Medical Emergency, or Paternity Leave) as of midnight August 31st is ineligible to be included on his club's post-season Active List.

4. A post-season eligible player who is placed on an MLB Disabled List, Bereavement List, Medical Emergency List, Paternity List, or Restricted List (extended Bereavement, Medical Emergency, or Paternity Leave ONLY) prior to the start of a post-season series can (with the approval of the MLB Commissioner) be replaced on his club's LDS, LCS, or World Series Active List by a player who was on a Reserve List or Disabled List, Bereavement List, Medical Emergency List, Paternity List, or Temporarily Inactive List of a minor league affiliate from that organization prior to midnight August 31st. However, the minor league player must be added to his club's MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) before he can be added to the club's post-season Active Roster.

5. A player on a post-season Active List (25-man roster) who is injured or leaves his club on Bereavement, Medical Emergency, or Paternity Leave during a post-season series can (with the approval of the MLB Commissioner) be replaced on his club's Active List prior to the conclusion of that series by another eligible player, or by a player who was on a Reserve List or Disabled List, Bereavement List, Medical Emergency List, Paternity List, or Temporarily Inactive List of a minor league affiliate from that organization prior to midnight August 31st. A minor league player must be added to his club's MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) before he can be added to the club's post-season Active Roster.

6. If a player is replaced during a post-season series, a pitcher must replace a pitcher and a position player must replace a position player.

7. If a pitcher or position player is replaced during a post-season series, the pitcher or position player is ineligible to be reinstated to his club's Active List (25-man roster) for the balance of that series and the next series (LCS or World Series).

as rumored for a potential deal (NOT rumored to be accepted at this point), it would suck to lose baez from an upside POV, but carrasco for 3/19m with 2 team option years at 9m and 9.5m....damn...that's a hell of bargain for 3-5 seasons. it would be easy for him to fetch more than twice as much if he was a FA at the end of the year.

race to the deadline! mets get y.cespedes (z.wheeler not part of deal) the trade deadline has passed...last 10 minutes only had 1 big "under the wire" announced trade. there's always trades that leak out past the deadline because the agreements haven't been announced/leaked, so there's still hope for the cubs getting something done.

Rosenthal says Cubs get Tommy Hunter

no more medina (i assume)...that's nice. also, what's wada's role now that he no longer has a roster spot to return to? i'd rather have wada over haren, but that doesn't seem likely.

Also no Cubs Padres deal per Rosenthal

Junior Lake for Hunter

Will Lake be out of options next year?

BOB R: Yes, Junior Lake will be out of minor league options next year. Same goes for Matt Szczur, Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva, Yoervis Medina, and Brian Schlitter.

Neil Ramirez, Hector Rondon, and Jacob Turner were already out of options (and I'm just listing the guys with less than five years of MLB Service Time who will be out of minor league options next year). 

A player on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster had to be either Designated for Assignment or transfered from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL at 1 PM (Eastern), which is when the trades had to be officially filed with the MLB office. (Junior Lake gets dropped to make room for Hunter, but the two players traded for Haren were not on the Cubs MLB 40-man roster). 

The Cubs 25-man roster does not need to be adjusted until Haren and Hunter actually report to the team, and they have 48 hours to do that. 

if lake could still play a passable CF (he's more of a corner guy now, LF mostly because of the average arm) i would be more concerned. as it is, 2+ (hopefully +) months of hunter for lake seems to be a decent risk considering what's already in AAA on lake's level. sczuzruraurzrzruczur can fill lake's most-likely-use as bench OF on the team and cover CF.

Lake having an average arm? I always thought AZ Phil mentioned Lake as having one of the strongest throwing arms in the Cubs' minor league system. He's played about 1/3 in Right Field, 2/3 in Left Field in Iowa this year, so he has been mostly used in the corners. AZ Phil always said he had great tools (arm, speed, power, etc.) but had a hard time putting it all together with consistency. He seems to have learned how to take a walk this year at AAA.

his arm used to grade extremely high, but it's not as strong or accurate (especially accurate) as it was back before 2014-ish. that said, yeah, "average" is too weak of a description even without the arm he once's not like it's declined severely.

Last trade for Oriole pitchers worked out well

I think I'll miss Lake's terrible OBP and high K rate the most. And his shirt always tucked out in the back.

i'll miss calling him pond when he sucks...which has been too much the past couple years.

Lake, Another "toolsy" Hendry era remnant sent away

The ship has sailed on the "little pond." One of my favorite names since Angel Pagan. Just hope he isn't late bloomer like Pagan.

aww...ben rowen DFA'd before we got a chance to see that circus. dude throws 80mph. his game is 100% submariner deception.

Dan Haren started last night (Thursday) for Miami, so the Cubs will still need to bring somebody else up to start on Sunday (presemably either Tsuyoshi Wada will be reinstated from the 15-day DL, or Clayton Richard will be recalled from Iowa).

Or I guess Travis Wood could get a "spot start" on Sunday, and then go back to bullpen once Haren goes into the rotation next Tuesday or Wednesday. 

Cubs released RHP Zach Cates (acquired from SD post-2011 in the Rizzo-Cashner deal) and catcher Justin Marra (Cubs 2011 15th round draft pick - Toronto, ON). 

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  • Cubster 4 hours 52 min ago (view)

    per Tribune: Kimbrel's OK, just working on his changeup (formerly his fastball).


  • Arizona Phil 17 hours 11 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have released RHRP (and their erstwhile closer) Brandon Morrow. There is no indication that they plan to re-sign him to another (different) 2020 minor league contract without the Article XX-B $100K retention bonus provision (as happened with Jason Kipnis last week).  


  • crunch 20 hours 38 min ago (view)

    rizzo takes another day off (lower back).  ross says the club is "exercising caution."

    klye ryan is expected to join the team tomorrow after some mysterious holdup.


  • Ryno 21 hours 15 min ago (view)

    Has anyone seen Darvish's pitch "The Supreme"?  Isn't it just a sinker?


  • Ryno 21 hours 23 min ago (view)

    In other words:  This lineup sucks.


  • Arizona Phil 21 hours 40 min ago (view)

    Jason Kipnis was released on June 29th and then he was re-signed to a new (different) 2020 minor league contract that does not require a $100K retention bonus if he is not added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List by 2020 MLB Opening Day (7/23).  

    Brandon Morrow remains on his original 2020 minor league contract which pays him a $100K retention bonus if he is not released by 7/18 or added to the Cubs MLB Reserve List by 7/23. 


  • Eric S 21 hours 45 min ago (view)

    There is that re Kimbrel - at worst, just another year on the books.

     July 1st is Bobby Bonilla Day - the day that check is cut and paid annually. 


  • Cubster 21 hours 51 min ago (view)

    On the bright side regarding Kimbrel. It doesn't have the lasting bad side as the Mets arrangement with Bobby Bonilla. Unless they want to re-negotiate Kimbrel's terms.


  • Eric S 23 hours 18 min ago (view)


    Watching the last night's highlight clip was not encouraging either as discussed here:


  • crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    i still can't believe this front office paid anyone 16m a year to throw 60-70ip...


  • Eric S 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    Unfortunately, Kimbrel in Cub mid season form as well, giving up a two out, two run oppo homer to Willson. 

    Kimbrel Cub stats which I tried to bury but were dug up again: gave up a career high 9 home runs in only 20 2/3 inning, averaged a career high 9.1 hits allowed per 9 innings and served up a 6.53 ERA for his troubles. And no full spring training build up period again.  Still hopeful he's got something left in the tank this year and next but man, he's got my full attention going into the season


  • BobbyD 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    Hmm. Never thought about it that way. Maybe it is a very stable genius? 


  • crunch 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    maybe he's hoping it'll be bad enough to flip the population odometer over to 0 after humanity is wiped from the planet.  let's give him more time to see if he's right before we get too down on him.


  • crunch 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    "Shohei Ohtani threw just 15 of his 50 pitches for strikes in an intrasquad game Tuesday.  Trent Rush had him at eight walks, a hit by pitch and six wild pitches before he was shut down for a day. "



  • crunch 1 day 16 hours ago (view)

    anthony rizzo is in mid-season form.

    he sat out today with lower back tightness.


  • BobbyD 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    Well, back in February (I think; that was about 17 years ago now), our diaper staining commander in his own mind declared we had 15 cases in the U.S. and that would quickly go to zero. 130k dead and rapidly rising now 4 months later I still have brain dead neighbors in SoCal saying if Biden gets elected we're screwed. I wonder what they think screwed looks like.