Rich Looks Hardened; Aaron's Miles Away

He doesn't exactly pack 'em in like Wood and Prior used to.

A crowd of about 7,000 gathered last night at Principal Park. Some portion of it was there for the express purpose of watching Rich Harden tune up for his return to the big leagues this weekend.

I watched Harden warm up in the bullpen before he took the mound. From less than 10 feet away he sure doesn't look the 6'1" or the 195 # attributed to him in the media guide.

The other thing I noticed right away was that his pant legs went all the way to his shoetops. The rest of the team tucks 'em below the knee, knickers style. I'm guessing he paid for the fashion privilege with a post-game clubhouse spread before catching the first plane out of town.

He retired the first six batters he faced on only 22 pitches without topping 90 mph. The second inning required only eight.

In the 3rd his velocity rose noticeably and he struggled a bit. I'm not alleging  cause & effect there - just reporting.

A sharp leadoff single was followed by a dribbler to short that went for a hit. After his Round Rock counterpart laid down a sacrifice bunt, Reggie Abercrombie singled in the only earned run Harden gave up. Abercrombie hit the first pitch and it looked like a changeup. In the 1st & 5th Harden fanned him with a steady diet of high fastballs. The changeup and splitter were more effective as out pitches once Harden got hitters down in the count. A Round Rock hitter [think his name is Hyperbole] is quoted in the local paper this morning as saying that Harden, "threw me a split-finger...that was probably one of the best pitches I've ever seen." My goodness!

Anyway, after Abercrombie stole 2nd, Harden issued one of his two walks to load the bases before bearing down and getting out of the jam on two weak flyballs to So Taguchi in right. He threw as many pitches in the 3rd as he had in the first two innings combined.

All six of his strikeouts were swinging. I had him for first-pitch strikes to 10 of the 20 hitters he faced. 44 of his 70 pitches were strikes.

Here's an inning-by-inning breakdown:

1. Strikeout swinging [four pitches]

2. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]

3. G3; unassisted [five pitches]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. F7 [two pitches]

5. L9 [one pitch]

6. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. Single to right [seven pitches]

8. Infield single [three pitches]

9. Sacrifice bunt [two pitches]

10. Single to left [one pitch]

11. Walk [five pitches]

12. F9 [one pitch]

13. F9 [three pitches]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

14. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]

15. Walk [four pitches]

16. FC; 1-6 [three pitches - should have been a DP to end inning; SS dropped a perfect throw on the pivot]

17. Strikeout swinging [five pitches]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

18. E3 [five pitches]

19. Strikeout swinging [three pitches]

20. 5-3 [one pitch; call it a night...]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Harden was a little slow covering first on the grounder to the right side that began the 5th inning. Luis Rivas ranged wide to field it before throwing it way behind Harden. The whole play was out of sync and it led to the other [unearned] run charged to Harden.

As for the other rehabber in town...

Miles played 3rd last night after two games @ 2B. The good news is that he made a real fine play on a bunt in the 5th that looked like a sure hit.

The bad news is that he went 0-5 with three strikeouts, one of those on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and nobody out in the 3rd. At least he went down swinging. I don't look for him to fill the clutch-hitting shoes of Aramis Ramirez, but at least the I-Cubs will get one of their better players [Scales or Blanco?] back.

Last & Least: I got a kick out of Jason Dubois lining a screaming single off the wall in right-center [last time I saw him a routine foul pop to left caromed off his melon into the stands]. He ultimately got where he was supposed to be by scampering [?] to 2nd on a blocked WP. Later in the game he also scored from 2nd, hustling all the way on a more garden variety single by Matt Camp...Samardzija throws today against Bud Norris [future NL Central mound opponents] in a noon matinee...MW

Comments

I may very well, literally, pull the hair out of my head if Miles gets called up after going 0-5 with 3K in a freaking PCL game. It really grinds me that someone can suck so much and make over 2 million dollars-per. Player A-Player B: Player A: 254/266/343, 2 HR Player B: 204/250/265, 0 HR One is Neifi! Perez in his last year (partial year) as a Cub, one is Aaron Miles in the first 1/3 of this season. They both have a lifetime 979 FPct, still I consider Neifi! the superior defender. In nearly every aspect of the game, Neifi! Perez is either better or nearly the same as Aaron Miles, yet Neifi! doesn't have a job in the MLB. I can't believe there were no better options out there. Hell, don't sign anyone and call up some douchebag from AAA to hit 204 in June. Blanco has shown he can really flash the leather in the infield, why not just use him.

[ ]

In reply to by The Real Neal

You are comparing a pitcher in the bullpen to a starting position player as far as games played? That is interesting. Miles had a BABIP of .342 in 2008 - I already mentioned that salient point. Bottomline. Is he as bad of a player as he has been so far in 2009? No, probably not, he has been injured. Is he as good of a player as he was in 2008? No, he was lucky. Objectively, he is a .285 hitter with no power or speed, who is not a great defender either. That's what he is, plain and simple.

[ ]

In reply to by The Real Neal

No, I don't follow baseball at all. You are right. You always resort to semantics when you get to the end of your argument. So let me just restate my previous post for you then, with corrections. You are comparing a pitcher in the bullpen to a position player who played 80% of the games last season as far as games played? That is interesting. Miles had a BABIP of .342 in 2008 - I already mentioned that salient point. Bottomline. Is he as bad of a player as he has been so far in 2009? No, probably not, he has been injured. Is he as good of a player as he was in 2008? No, he was lucky. Objectively, he is a .285 hitter with no power or speed, who is not a great defender either. That's what he is, plain and simple.

[ ]

In reply to by WISCGRAD

I always resort to semantics? This from the guy who joined the discussion with trying to correct me about 371 at bats being a full season. Doesn't it bother you being a hypocrite? "Objectively, he is a .285 hitter with no power or speed, who is not a great defender either. That's what he is, plain and simple." Right, you figured something out. It was the same thing I was implying with my original post. It just took you 2 hours to come to the same conclusion. Congratulations, you're up to speed. Try to stay there for a week.

[ ]

In reply to by Ryno

I came to hate Neifi, but the real problem was that he played all the time. He's not an everyday player. 154 games in 2005. That was the year that Garciaparra went down. The following year, we got Izturis and Neifi's playing time dropped some. Miles was only supposed to play one or possibly two games a week. Aramis got injured so he became a starter, but I can't imagine Lou starting Miles in 100 games under any circumstances. He's just not Lou's type: no speed, no pop. Dusty's type--that's a different story. Dusty was the problem, not Neifi. I never thought I'd hear myself defending Neifi, but role players get a lot of abuse around here. When the Cubs parted company with DeRosa, they needed a backup infielder. The choices at the time were Cedeno and Nate Spears. So they latched on to Miles. What's complicated?

"The other thing I noticed right away was that his pant legs went all the way to his shoetops. The rest of the team tucks 'em below the knee, knickers style. I'm guessing he paid for the fashion privilege with a post-game clubhouse spread before catching the first plane out of town." As far as I know the Cubs require all minor leaguers to go "knickers style"......Harden got a pass on that rule.

I know that the I-Cubs have gone all-knickers the past two years but don't recall it prior to that & haven't read or heard that's it's an organizational edict. Seems like there might be higher priorities...

from Judd Sirott on the Cub broadcast, 5th inning: Aramis Ramirez was taking grounders today Miles will be brought up for the Wednesday game (didn't say who goes down but it's either Scales or Andy White, probably Scales)

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