I-Cubs Schedule Play Dates With New Playmates

So the Iowa Cub schedule released this week and it’s, well, different. Different opponents, different format, different duration. But the difference that matters most is that there will be a season this season.

No more Pacific Coast League for the ultra landlocked I-Cubs. As charter members of the newly conceived Triple A East League/Midwest Division, they’re slated to play 142 games, all of them against intradivisional foes Louisville Bats (Cincy), St. Paul Saints (Twins), Columbus Clippers (MLB team to be renamed later that’s at home in Cleveland), Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit), Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh’s partners; team, city and state to be renamed later?) and the same old, same old Omaha Storm Chasers, née Royals, longtime cousins of the big club in Kansas City.

Get this: 42 games with Omaha and 36 versus St. Paul, Iowa's next door neighbors in the comparatively close knit divisional cul de sac, make up more than half of the schedule. All series will be Tuesday through Sunday, six-game arrangements. Everybody gets Mondays off and all travel between cities will be by bus to reduce both possible COVID exposure in airports and on commercial flights and operating expenses. The far flung PCL consortium required lots of flying time. This first year of the reorganized MiLB with the pandemic still a major factor throughout the minors will present an opportunity for new rivalries to spring up quickly as teams get sick of seeing each other six days in a row. Iowa’s first two series, on the road at Louisville and at home facing Toledo, will be like blind dates arranged by the MLB matchmakers who orchestrated the fruit basket upset of the bush leagues that lopped off 40 town teams on the lowest rungs.

Also, a season that’s traditionally ended on Labor Day will extend through September 19 this year, thereby curtailing next winter by a couple of weeks.

I’m curious about the new league’s new ball. In 2019, for the first time, Triple A used the exact same ball as MLB, only with a different monogram. The big leagues announced they’re tweaking their model (again) in ‘21 and I suppose the ones they ship here will be stamped what, Triple A East? No ring to it, but I’m sure there’ll be the proverbial “CRACK!” when a bat hits it. I can almost hear it now. 



Living in the Quad Cities area, I look forward to hopefully coming to Des Moines to see the I Cubs a few times this summer.

Hagsag, the River Bandits made the cut tho, right?

Yes they did.

welcome to the "big time" st paul saints...they built a nice park, the fans showed up, and they go from indies to AAA (with a bit of $ help from the twins for part ownership).

billy murray is a part owner of the group that owns the saints, btw.

They also gave away Larry Craig bobblefoot dolls as a promotion.

alcantara passes through waivers and is assigned to AAA.

marisnick contract final, phllip ervin (OF) DFA'd

Barry Foote bobble day! Cool!

As a midwest kid now living in Texas, new scheduling is a bummer.  Only get a chance to drive and see Cubs once every 3 years with interleague.  Really looked forward to those games in Round Rock and the one season in San Antonio.  I understand it makes more sense in the big picture, just selfishly disappointed.

Ervin claimed by Braves. So we lose a potential future (and also current) asset in exchange for one year of a very mediocre Jake Marisnick.

This team has no direction at the moment.

I get you, SW. Here in Des Moines, Cardinal fans flocked to I-Cub games when Memphis Redbirds were in town. That won't happen in '21 and even if it does in '22 & beyond it won't be as frequent as when they were in the same division. Not that I'll miss seeing Cardinal gear @ our ballpark...

AAA leagues really need to play through the month of September, because with September rosters being limited to 28 instead of 40, players will need to be moved back & forth between MLB and AAA throughout the month of September instead of just through the month of August. 

In years past it was not necessary to option a player to the minors in September to make room for another player (like a player being reinstated from the IL or a player being recalled from the minors). In fact, by rule, an MLB club cannot option a player to a minor league affiliate whose season has concluded. (With the 28-man roster limit in effect in September I expect this restriction will have to be eliiminated, which it probably would have been in 2020 if the MLB season had not been interrupted by CoViD-19).

MLB clubs were allowed to option players to their Alternate Training Site up through the last day of the MLB regular season in 2020, although (as has always been the case) all players on Optional Assignment had to be recalled no,later than the day after the conclusion of the MLB regular season. 

So I'm not surprised that the AAA season will extend past Labor Day and end on September 19th, although it would make even more sense for the AAA schedule to run even a week longer than that so that players can be optioned to the minors over the last two weeks of the MLB regular season as well instead of just through September 19th.   

Conversely, it is not really necessary for the AAA regular season to start at the same time as the MLB regular season, because AAA clubs could have their Spring Training in April (in Arizona and Florida) after the MLB clubs have left town and then start their regular season on or about May 1st, and MLB clubs could just option and recall players from Minor League Camp during the month of April. 

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  • tim815 27 min 41 sec ago (view)

    MLB.com rated the Cubs 22 out of 30.

    This season figures to tell quite a bit. No teams are terrible at player development anymore, and no teams look at the draft as a hopeless puzzle.


  • KingKongvsGodzilla 3 hours 41 min ago (view)

    Are these guys out of the org now? 


  • K Dub 8 hours 18 min ago (view)

    PHIL: Any velo readings on Ramos? Earlier reports also had him sitting 98-99. Thanks!


  • George Altman 14 hours 19 min ago (view)

    Phil, serious question: How good is the Cubs Player Development Department? Scale of 1 to 30 with 1 being best.  I mean, I can think of 5 teams right now who don't have near the Cubs resources but do better year after.

    I mean there are organizations across sports who seem to coach the crap out of their draft picks and signees. They just got 4 teenagers for Darvish, but do they have the coaches to get any of them to the show? 

    My pessimistic grade would be about 24.


  • Arizona Phil 14 hours 33 min ago (view)

    DJL: How about Eddy Julio Martinez as a spectacular miss? A $3M signing bonus out of Cuba and he never made it out of AA. 


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 14 hours 40 min ago (view)

    Wow, that's a pretty spectacular miss. He was so highly thought of when he signed.


  • Arizona Phil 15 hours 12 min ago (view)

    TIM: Richard Gallardo doesn't seem to be progressing as a SP, so he has apparently been moved to the bullpen.  He has a tendency to labor through innings and nibble too much and throw a lot of pitches. 


  • tim815 15 hours 26 min ago (view)

    Anything on Gallardo, of interest, from today?


  • Arizona Phil 15 hours 28 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have released LHP Ryan Kellogg, RHP Alex Moore, 3B Fidel Mejia, OF Jose Gutierrez, OF Eddy Julio Martinez, and OF Zac Taylor from Minor League Camp. 


  • Arizona Phil 15 hours 34 min ago (view)

    And despite what you might read elsewhere, It was - NOT - a "hot" gun.  


  • Arizona Phil 16 hours 30 sec ago (view)

    He certainly could have forced the Cubs to release him with full salary as termination pay, so he must like it with the Cubs.  


  • Charlie 17 hours 50 min ago (view)

    Follow-up on last week's discussion of Baez's contact and plate discipline woes. Another Fangraphs article notes that he is among league leaders in combined positive change in zone swing rates (swinging at more pitches inside the strike zone) and reduction in chase rate (swinging at pitches outside the zone). See the last table: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/lets-look-at-some-earl...

    This makes his 45% strikeout rate and 1.7% BB rate all the more strange.


  • crunch 20 hours 52 min ago (view)

    he may not be worth much to us as fans, but every indication points to him being quite popular in the dugout.  nice to see him stick around as an emergency callup catcher.


  • Wrigley Rat 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    Tony Wolters clears waivers and is sent to the Alternate Training site in South Bend.


  • bigsky33 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    Hi Phil, are they letting you into Sloan?  Great to see your write-ups!! 


  • crunch 1 day 17 hours ago (view)

    DUDE.  STOP.