Minor Matters – May 22, 2013 (Cubs Minor League Reports)

Iowa 5-22 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – The Cubs were out of this one right away as Las Vegas piled up eight runs in the first four innings to make it 8-2 en route to a 9-4 victory.  Edwin Maysonet was 2-for-5 with his second home run of the season, an RBI, and a run scored.  Brian Bogusevic doesn’t stop hitting, he was 1-for-2 with his fifth home run of the season, a stolen base, an RBI, three walks (Cubs Way!), and a run scored.  Brett Jackson was 1-for-3 with his third triple of the season, and a run scored in the loss.  Donnie Murphy also got in on the home run fun, he was 1-for-3 with a walk, his third home run of the season, an RBI, and a run scored.

On The MoundGuillermo Moscoso got the start and was torched by the 51’s as he suffered his first loss of the season.  Moscoso worked four innings giving up eight runs on six hits while walking four and striking out seven.  Casey Coleman was brilliant out of the pen going three scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking one and striking out two.  Hisanori Takahashi worked two innings giving up one run on three hits while striking out two.

Daytona 5-22 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – The D-Cubs jumped all over Jupiter early, taking a 6-1 lead in the third en route to an 8-4 victory, their second straight.  Daytona pounded out twelve hits in the win, and were 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position.  John Andreoli was outstanding going 3-for-5 with two runs scored; he surprisingly didn’t steal a base in this one.  Javier Baez was 1-for-5 with his twelfth double of the season, an RBI, and two runs scored, and he committed his twentieth error of the 2013.  Jorge Soler was 1-for-3 with two walks, and two RBI’s, he’s now hitting .299 on the season after slumping for a few weeks.  Dustin Geiger loves to drive in runs, he was 2-for-5 with a double, and two RBI’s, that gives him 39 on the season.  Chadd Krist had a solid game going 1-for-3 with a walk, a double, and two runs scored in the win.

On The MoundAustin Kirk got the start tonight and righted the ship to get his fifth win of the season.  Kirk worked five innings giving up one run on three hits while walking two and striking out two, nice to see this kind of outing from Kirk who had struggled mightily in May.  Luis Liria struggled out of the pen going 1.2 innings giving up two runs on two hits while walking one and striking out one.  Hunter Cervenka has been so very good this year, and was effective tonight.  Cervenka worked 2.1 innings giving up one run on four hits while walking three and striking out two, earning his fifth save of the season.

Kane County 5-22 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – The Cougars fell behind 5-0 by the second inning and were really never in it as they wound up losing 9-2 to the Chiefs.  The Cougars had the same amount of hits as the Chiefs did (10), but scored seven less runs as they were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  The big news of the night was the return of Albert Almora who was making his 2013 debut after recovering for surgery to remove a broken hamate bone.  Almora didn’t disappoint as he was 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, too bad he wasn’t up with guys on base tonight.  Eight of the nine starters had hits for the Cougars in this one; it really was a challenge to score only two runs.  The Cougars had three extra base hits in the loss, the Almora double, a Dan Vogelbach double, and a Gioskar Amaya triple.

On The MoundMichael Heesch was very good in the early going this year, but has struggled recently, that includes tonight.  Heesch suffered his fourth loss of the season as he worked 6.2 innings giving up five runs, four earned, on six hits while walking one and striking out three.  Eddie Orozco wasn’t much better out of the pen as he could only retire one hitter giving up two runs on three hits while striking out one.  Brian Smith was also touched up as he worked one inning giving up two runs, one earned, on one hit while walking two and striking out two.

George header

May 22, 2013 – Cubs @ Pirates; Lineups

Jeff Samardzija battles Francisco Liriano in game two at 6:05 PM CST on WGN.  There is some bad weather in the Pittsburgh area so there could be a delay or two, no word on if the game will start on time, all indications are that it will, but that could change.  Here is how both teams will line up.

May 22 lineups

George header

From the you can’t make this up department: Shawn Camp to the DL with a ….. toe injury; Dolis recalled (UPDATE)

Oh, baseball is a funny game, down right hilarious, and infuriating at the same time.  I spoke in length about how the decision to keep Shawn Camp and DFA Michael Bowden was a terrible one, well now things look even worse.  Shawn Camp has been placed on the DL by the Cubs today with a toe injury, and I hope that he kicked something and got hurt.  Do I wish any ill will towards him?  Of course not, but this better not have been a nagging injury that now warrants a trip to the DL.  That makes the decision to hang on to Camp an inexcusable one.  The Cubs could have released him if he was banged up, or simply could have put him on the DL and kept Bowden.  Like I said, I hope this injury Camp injuryhappened yesterday and not something that has been there for a while as that will look terrible for the Cubs.  With the move to the DL the Cubs needed an arm and recalled Rafael Dolis, what else is new, this seems like a weekly occurrence.  I only ask one thing, use him.  Don’t call him up to sit on the bench, put him in games, the pen can’t get any worse and Dolis is actually starting to kick it into high gear at Iowa, maybe that will translate to the big league level now.

In other bullpen related news, the bullpen and Dale Sveum just held a closed-door meeting in Pittsburgh… I assume the reason for this is now that Camp is hurt Sveum needs to find a new best friend out there.  In all honesty, consider this a wake up call to the pen, which should have happened a while ago, if you don’t perform, you are out….unless your first name is Shawn and last name is Camp.  Really just horrible timing and execution from the Cubs and Sveum with this bullpen crapshow.

UPDATE – What a wonderful update, Patrick Mooney is reporting that this is an injury that Camp has been dealing with for about a month now, there are no words or excuses now from the Cubs in regards to keeping Camp, ridiculous.  Not to mention, there are reports that no one on the Cubs knew about the injury until today, Camp didn’t tell anyone, I have no words for this situation any longer.

George header

Sveum’s debacle last night, my thoughts

I’ve never been one to call for a managers head, or question a manager openly, unless their first name is Mike, and last name is Quade, that’s not what this is.  I’ve played the game, nowhere near the MLB level, and I’ve never been a manager so I cannot relate to what Sveum goes through on a daily basis with one eye on his team, one eye on his future, and one eye on the organizations future, wait, that’s too many eyes, I digress.  Sveum has been a popular target on social media, specifically twitter the last week, and really all the season when the Cubs flame out, but rarely receives any credit when he does make the right move and it pays off.  Now, I understand that this is usually the case with managers, but it’s worth pointing out that Cubs fans are slowly turning their hate and ire towards Sveum.  Last night didn’t help, and it added fuel to the fire of the keeping Shawn Camp decision, more on that later.

I don’t care what word you want to use, disaster, debacle, mismanaged, I think they all apply to last night.  After Matt Garza made a successful return to the mound going five scoreless innings giving up one hit while walking three and striking out five he was lifted by Sveum, this was after 82 pitches, and it was the RIGHT move.  Sveum screwed up last night, but one of the things he did right was lift Garza, Garza means more to the Cubs healthy with a no Garza Backdecision, then hurt again, and 1-0 on the season.  The head scratching came after he lifted Garza.  Shawn Camp was warming up in the pen during the fifth inning in case Garza couldn’t get out of some trouble, Garza did get out of the trouble, then Camp sat down.  Hector Rondon got up instead and was slated to come in for the sixth, that was the first issue I had.  Shawn Camp has been awful this year, Shawn Camp has shown signs of a dead arm this year, you don’t get him up to come in then sit him down, doesn’t work, usually doesn’t.  Rondon struggled, which can happen, then Sveum reached a new level of second guessing by bringing in James Russell, arguably the best arm in the pen…. in the sixth.  Sure, one could argue that this was a turning point in the game, but what happens after the sixth if Russell gets out of it?  Who’s left out of the pen to work the seventh, Camp?  The same Camp that just sat down an inning ago?  Marmol would probably come in for the seventh, but as you will read Sveum had no intentions of letting Russell get out of the sixth.

Let’s stop there for a second to discuss something else.  When Garza’s return to the rotation was announced, last week, Sveum said that Villanueva was going to go to the pen.  Okay, given that Garza was on a strict pitch count last night, Sveum had a day or so to figure out what he wanted to do when Garza was lifted, and he was most likely going to be lifted early.  So one would think that it would have made perfect sense to bring in Villanueva to not only get through the sixth, but piece together the game and have Villanueva get the ball to the ninth assuming he was effective.  But Villanueva was nowhere to be found, and I do understand that he might not have been available, but for argument’s sake I figured I would at least bring it up as another possible option for Sveum in the sixth.

Okay, back to what actually happened last night.  So in comes Russell in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and one out to face Pedro Alvarez.  I get the lefty/lefty match up thing in a big spot but after Russell walked Alvarez Sveum removed him.  The best arm in the pen faced one batter in the sixth and that was it.  If you are going10-4 Sveum to bring Russel in for that situation let him get out of it, or at least attempt to.  I don’t care if it’s a righty or lefty at the plate, Russell can get both out, instead he faces one guy, and leaves the game in the same situation as he entered it.  Now comes the decision to bring in Shawn Camp with the bases loaded and one out, he gets the first guy, but then is left in to face a lefty in Travis Snider, why?  If Russell is being lifted after one hitter because of matchup’s why is Camp being left in the game for an unfavorable matchup?  Probably because he was the third pitcher of the inning already.  But if this was the most important spot in the game, important enough to use Russell, why wasn’t Fujikawa brought in, or Marmol, both have been better than Camp, and that’s alarming given Marmol’s struggles.  Dale completely botched this whole situation as he then was forced to stick with Camp the rest of the inning because no one was left out of the pen if he went to a fourth pitcher in the inning.

So, what could have been done differently?  Garza had to come out, no question, I absolutely agree with that move.  I’m indifferent on bringing in Rondon in that situation, but I would have went with Marmol, but have a quick hook ready if he can’t find the zone.  Ideally, Marmol works the sixth inning, Russell works the seventh, Fujikawa works the eighth, and Gregg closes it out.  I don’t see any reason why Rondon HAD to be used, when in the past Sveum has shied away from using him late with a lead, but my biggest complaint is Russell for one hitter, makes no sense.  Now, this is the scenario if Villanueva was not available, if he was available then this game was the perfect spot for a former starter easing into the pen.  Use him for as long as he is effective then go from there, we’ve already seen our fair share of bullpen disasters, but I think this one could have been avoided with better decision-making from Sveum.

That brings us to the other question, why was Camp still available to be used in the first place?  To make room for Garza one pitcher had to be designated for assignment, and that pitcher was Michael Bowden.  Bowden was having a solid season on the heels of having a really good finish to 2012, but now the Cubs risk losing him completely, and he’s only 26, why?  I can’t really answer that question, and ultimately that decision comes down to the front office.  Both Theo and Jed said that all decisions regarding the roster are made with a large input from Dale, so my guess is that he lobbied hard for Camp, and the front office showed faith in their manager and player by keeping Camp around.  Garza for BowdenThe Cubs had options here, they could have placed Rondon on the DL with a “middle body” injury to by some time before making a decision, or they could have released Camp who looks done, there is nothing telling me that he is going to bounce back in any way, shape or form.  Let’s not forget the only reason the Cubs got him was that he was released by Seattle during spring training the year before.  He’s also 37 years old, all of these things just don’t add up in regards to keeping him, so Sveum and the front office have to share the blame on that one, and if I had to guess Camp won’t be on the Cubs by the All-Star break.  Been a while since I’ve been able to share my thoughts in this space, felt I needed to after last night, today’s another game, let’s get a win!

George header

Albert Almora joins Kane County!

Awesome news this morning, the Cubs and the Cougars jointly announced that Albert Almora has been moved from extended Spring Training to Kane County.  Almora was recovering from surgery to remove a broken hamate bone, but is now 100% healthy and ready to go.  As of yet there has been no move to make a spot for him on the roster, but the press release does mention getting to see Almora play this weekend at home, so I’m assuming he will go right into the lineup.  Again, this is awesome news as Almora is one of the best prospects the Cubs have (6th overall pick last year), and needs time on the field to get better. George header

Series Preview – Cubs @ Pirates; May 21 – May 23, 2013

Pirates preview logo

It’s really quite disappointing that the Cubs come into the series on the heels of just losing one at home to the Mets.  That was the whole step back thing I was talking about before that series even started, and the Cubs went out and did just that as they fell back into bad habits, or trends, and lost the series.  The Cubs get a chance at redemption and to start another series winning streak starting tonight in Pittsburgh, and it’s a very important series.  Why, you ask.  I’ll tell you, my inquisitive friend, this marks the beginning of an eight game road trip, and I really think if they can get through this no worse than .500 they will be seeing .500 on the season sooner than later.  Pirates previewTonight also marks the return of Mr. Pie to the face, Matt Garza.  All kidding aside this is huge for the Cubs and Garza for so many reasons, one of those reasons is contract status, the other is trade value.  The Pirates come into this series with the pedal to the metal as they find themselves just two games out of first in the Central.  They also pose a challenge in their home ballpark where they are 15-9 on the season.  Both the Pirates and Cubs come into this series as equals as far as scoring runs is concerned, the Pirates have scored 176, the Cubs have scored 173.  Wait, so why do the Pirates have a better record, well, they have better pitching then the Cubs, specifically in the pen.  The Buccos boast the third best team ERA (3.33)in all of baseball, and their bullpen is a huge reason why as they have a bullpen ERA of 2.81, which is second best in the Majors.  The Cubs currently sit twenty-third in the Majors with a 4.11 bullpen ERA, and that boys and girls is why the Pirates are eight games over .500 and the Cubs are seven games under.

Last Series:

The Cubs lost two out of three to the Mets at Wrigley, and of course could have, and maybe should have won all three, which seems to happen a lot this year.

The Pirates won two out of three from the Astros in Pittsburgh over the weekend, and have won eight of their last ten games.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Tuesday, May 21, 2013 – 6:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Wednesday, May 22, 2013 – 6:05 PM CST on WGN
  • Thursday, May 23, 2013 – 11:35 AM CST on CSN Chicago

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Matt Garza (0-0, -.–)
– Career vs. Pirates (3 GS) (1-1, 3.79)

Game Two – Jeff Samardzija (2-5, 3.59)
– Career vs. Pirates (14 appearances, 3 GS) (4-0, 0.92)

Game Three – Edwin Jackson (1-6, 5.76)
– Career vs. Pirates (7 GS) (4-1, 3.09)

Pirates:

Game One – Wandy Rodriguez (4-2, 3.25)
– Career vs. Cubs (23 GS) (8-7, 3.56)

Game Two – Francisco Liriano (2-0, 1.64)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (0-1, 6.35)

Game Three – Jeanmar Gómez (2-0, 2.78)
– Career vs. Cubs (first appearance)

Bold Prediction:

This will be the first time all season that the Cubs will trot out their number one, two and three starters.  Okay, Jackson is not quite performing like a number three yet, and Wood and Feldman have been much better, but on paper going into this year it was Garza, Samardzija, Jackson.  Garza’s return to the rotation should only make the pitching staff, bullpen included, better.  With that said, I think the Cubs lose two out of three to the Pirates.  I think Garza will be way too amped up to make his first start so I forsee command issues and a loss tonight.  Now if Garza can harness that emotion the Cubs have a great shot to win the series, but given how hot theCastro pirates preview Pirates are, and Garza “easing” back into things I think the Buccos get the best of the him tonight, and then the Cubs splitting the next two.

Cub to Watch:

I expect a big series from Starlin Castro.  Castro has had his ups and downs this year, but not too high or too low.  He has hovered around .280 for the better part of a month, I think this series is the jumping off point to a really hot stretch.

George header

Minor Matters – May 20, 2013 (Cubs Minor League Reports)

Smokies 5-20 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – The Smokies used a huge fourth inning to secure game one, with the game tied at one the Smokies exploded for seven runs in the fourth en route to a 9-2 victory.  The Smokies pounded out twelve hits and scored nine times in just seven innings, and were 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position.  Matt Szczur was 1-for-4 with a double, two RBI’s, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .302 on the season.  Arismendy Alcantara had a huge game going 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI’s, and two runs scored.  Christian Villanueva was 1-for-4 with his third home run of the season, two RBI’s, and a run scored.  Rafael Lopez, and Rubi Silva each had two hits in the victory, Silva added a double, and an RBI.  Jonathan Mota was 1-for-2 with a walk, a stolen base, and two runs scored.

On The Mound – The Smokies only needed Alberto Cabrera in this one as he went the distance for his fourth win of the season.  Cabrera went seven innings giving up two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out six.  He improved his record to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 3.69 on the season.

Smokies 5-20 line game 2

Full Box Score

At The Plate – The Smokies used all their bullets in game one as they could only manage five hits in a 1-0 loss to Chattanooga.  Ronald Torreyes, Ty Wright, and Eric Jokisch all had one hit a piece; Jokisch had the only extra base hit for the Smokies.  Christian Villanueva had a solid game going 2-for-3 in the loss.

On The Mound – Eric Jokisch got the start in game two and was even better than Cabrera in game one; unfortunately he couldn’t get the win.  Jokisch worked six scoreless innings giving up three hits while walking one and striking out five.  Marcus Hatley took over and also took the loss, he worked two-thirds of an inning giving up one run on one hit while walking two and striking out one.

Daytona 5-20 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – Daytona couldn’t get much going in this one as they could only manage six hits and one run in a 4-1 loss to Jupiter.  The D-Cubs were in it until the end but Jupiter was able to plate three runs in the eighth to break this one open.  Zeke DeVoss had another strong game, that’s two in a row for the struggling center fielder; he was 2-for-3 with two singles.  Javier Baez seems to be heating up at the plate and making much more contact, he was 2-fo-4 with two doubles, and an RBI, he’s now hitting .262 on the season.

On The Mound Kyler Burke is probably a name you have known has been missing this year; he has been working at extended spring training and made his 2013 debut tonight.  Burke was solid going five innings giving up one run on four hits while walking two and striking out five.  Eduardo Figueroa, who seems to pitch every day, was hung with the loss in this one after being roughed up.  Figueroa worked 2.1 innings giving up three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out one.  Sheldon McDonald was his usual solid self, tossing two-thirds of an inning giving up one hit while striking out one.

Kane County 5-20 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – Another very tough loss for the Cougars against the best team in the league, the Cougars lost three out of four, all three by one run, quite the fight in these games.  Gioskar Amaya went 2-for-4 with a walk, two doubles, and two runs scored.  Dan Vogelbach was 2-for-5 with two RBI’s; he’s now hitting .286 on the season, and has twenty-five RBI’s.  Jeimer Candelario is heating up, he was 4-for-5 with two RBI’s, shocked he didn’t double, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .267 on the season.  Rock Shoulder wasn’t able to register a hit in this one, but he did walk three times, he was 0-for-2 with a run scored.

On The MoundTayler Scott got the start for the Cougars, and did his best to hold off the Kernels but they eventually got to him.  Scott worked 5.1 innings giving up five runs, four earned, on eight hits while walking two and striking out four.  Nathan Dorris was roughed up which is a rare occurrence, he worked 1.2 innings giving up three runs on three hits while walking three and striking out two.  Steve Perakslis worked a scoreless inning out of the pen while walking one.

NOTES:  Iowa was rained out.  On a more serious note, there has been some terrible weather ripping through the midwest, I just want to take this opportunity to say that my thoughts and prayers are with those of Moore, Oklahoma, terribly sad.

George header