Minor Matters – April 22, 2013 (Cubs Minor League Recaps)

Iowa 4-22 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – Iowa had several solid performances in this one and it led to a solid victory over a good Redbirds team.  Logan Watkins went 1-for-3 with two walks, a double, a stolen base, and a run scored.  Ian Stewart finally showed some life as he went 1-for-3 with a double, two RBI’s, and a run scored.  Brian Bogusevic was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .389 on the season.  Brad Nelson was 2-for-4 with a home rune, two RBI’s, and a run scored in the victory.

On The MoundBrooks Raley had another solid outing, and was rewarded with his second win of the season.  Raley went 5.1 innings giving up two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out three.  Zach Putnam, Rafael Dolis, and Blake Parker combined to shut the Redbirds down over the final 3.2 innings to preserve the win.  Putnam went 1.2 scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking one and striking out three.  Dolis and Parker also worked scoreless innings with Parker walking a tightrope to earn his second save, he didn’t give up a hit while walking two and striking out two in the ninth.

Smokies 4-22 lineFull Box Score

At The Plate – The Smokies wasted no time in getting back into the win column as they destroyed the Biscuits…Biscuits!  Arismendy Alcantara was in the middle of everything once again for the Smokies, he was 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI’s, two stolen bases, and two runs scored.  Eight of the nine hitters had at least one hit for the Smokies, Alcantara was the only one to have a multi-hit game.  Jae-Hoon Ha was 1-for-3 with a walk, a double, and two runs scored.  Jonathan Mota was 1-for-4 with two RBI’s in the victory.

On The MoundEric Jokisch continued his tremendous start to the season tonight, he went 6.1 innings giving up three runs, one earned, on eight hits while walking two and striking out three to move his record to 3-0.  Brian Schlitter, who has been just as good, if not better, did the rest out of the pen.  He went 2.2 scoreless innings giving up two hits and striking out one, he has yet to give up an earned run this season.

Daytona 4-22 lineFull Box Score

At The Plate – After yesterday’s poor offensive effort the D-Cubs got back at it tonight as they pounded out ten hits and seven runs.  Javier Baez, who is really turning it on of late, was 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI, and two runs scored.  Dustin Geiger also had a big night going 3-for-5 with three RBI’s, he now has 18 already on the season.  Jorge Soler was finally shut down, he was 0-for-5, but did have an RBI, and scored a run.

On The Mound Austin Kirk had some trouble navigating through five innings, but he was able to do so and improve his record to 3-0 on the season.  He gave up four runs on four hits while walking two and striking out eight over those five innings of work.  The bullpen was stout for the D-Cubs, and it was just two guys doing the work.  Zach Cates worked 1.1 scoreless, and hit-less innings while walking one, and Hunter Cervenka worked 2.2 scoreless, and hit-less innings while walking one and striking out two.

Kane County 4-22 line

Full Box Score

At The Plate – Tough one to take for the Cougars as they built an early 5-1 lead only to watch it slip away an end up in a 9-6 loss.  Pin-Chieh Chen was 2-for-4 with a walk, a caught stealing, and a run scored.  Gioskar Amaya was 2-for-5 with a run scored, but also made an error.  Daniel Vogelbach had a productive night at the plate going 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI’s, and a run scored.  Marco Hernandez was 2-for-4 with two doubles, and two RBI’s in the loss.  Rock Shoulders was finally held without a hit, but did walk three times, and scored a run.

On The MoundMichael Heesch was solid in his start today, unfortunately the bullpen and the Cougars defense kept him from getting the win.  Heesch went six innings giving up two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out five.  Brian Smith took the loss out of the pen, while he didn’t pitch well, he didn’t get much help either.  Smith went two-thirds of an innings giving up five runs, only one earned, on three hits while walking two and striking out one.  Matt Iannazzo was beat up as well, he went 2.1 innings giving up two runs on five hits while walking three.

Thanks for reading,
– George


Minor Matters – April 19, 2013 (Cubs Minor League Recaps)

Iowa 4-19 lineFull Box Score

At The Plate – The Cubs didn’t do much at the plate in this one, but didn’t need to, as the two runs they got in the first were plenty on their way to a 5-o victory.  Logan Watkins had a solid day at the top of the lineup going 2-for-5 with a run scored.  Ian Stewart, who is trying to make his way back to the big club was 0-for-2 but did draw two walks and scored a run.  Brian Bogusevic was 1-for-2 with two walks, a double and a run scored in the win.

On The Mound – Barret Loux was outstanding in this one as he earned his second win of the season.  Loux went five scoreless innings giving up three hits while walking one and striking out six.  Casey Coleman, Zach Putnam, Rafael Dolis, and Blake Parker all worked scoreless innings to close the door on Nashville.

Daytona 4-19 lineFull Box Score

At The Plate – The D-Cubs never really had a chance in this one as they fell behind 6-0 in the first and could never catch up.  Jorge Soler had another solid game going 1-for-3 with a walk, a double, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .414 on the season.  Dustin Geiger continues to pad his stats going 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, he now has fifteen RBI’s in just fourteen games.  Chad Noble was 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored in the loss.

On The Mound – Zach Cates didn’t have it tonight, and that might be putting it nicely.  He could only last two-thirds of an inning giving up six runs on three hits while walking three and striking out one.  Hunter Cervenka did a solid job out of the pen going two scoreless innings, he did walk three and struck out one, and didn’t give up any hits.  Luis Liria was good as well going 3.1 innings giving up one run on three hits while walking one and striking out five.  Frank Del Valle was effective as he usually is but didn’t have command at all, he worked 2.2 innings giving up one run on three hits while walking five(!) and striking out three.  In all D-Cubs pitchers walked twelve men in the loss.

Smokies 4-19 lineFull Box Score

At The Plate – Matt Szczur has had a solid start to the 2013 season and it continues last night as he was 2-for-5 with a triple, and two runs scored, he’s hitting .288 and has a .348 on base percentage.  Ronald Torreyes as been a house on fire since his return, he was 1-for-4 with a double, and two runs scored, he’s hitting .353 on the season.  Arismendy Alcantara continues to impress everyone associated with the Cubs, even their fans, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, two RBI’s, and a stolen base, his sixth in the last three games.  Christian Villanueva was 1-for-4 with a double, two RBI’s, and two runs scored, his average is only at .204 on the season but he already has twelve RBI’s.

On The Mound – Matt Loosen got the start and didn’t get the win but did some solid work, he just couldn’t get through five innings.  He went four scoreless innings giving up four hits while walking two and striking out eight.  A.J. Morris came on in relief to record the win as he went three innings giving up one run on three hits while walking two and striking out two.  Brian Schlitter shut things down over the last two innings, as he didn’t give up a run, he gave up three hits and struck out three.  I would also like to thank Born on Third friend Celeste Whiteside @aspenthisyear for sending along the following picture of Trey McNutt from last night, thanks so much Celeste!

Trey  McNutt

NOTES: Kane County doesn’t play games anymore, they were rained out, again.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Non-Tender Ian Stewart, Among Others

Some Cubs roster moves today, figured this was coming based on the comments from Jed Hoyer earlier in the day.

via Bleacher Nation

“According to Paul Sullivan, Carrie Muskat, and Bruce Miles on Twitter, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said a couple interesting things this afternoon:

(1) He expects the Cubs’ 40-man roster to be under 40 by tonight (it currently stands at 40); and

(2) The Cubs are “very likely” (per Sullivan) to have a couple of non-tenders (Muskat used the words “may have a couple non-tendered”).”

This led to some speculation that there would be an unexpected non-tender as the five arbitration eligible players were Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, James Russell, Luis Valbuena, and Ian Stewart.  ian-stewart-10Not the case, and I think there was some confusion in the reporting process of Hoyer’s comments, so moving onto the news of the day.

The Cubs non-tendered Ian Stewart, Zach Putnam, and Jaye Chapman today, essentially making them free agents immediately.  All three players drop off the 40 man roster, leaving the 40 man roster at 37 currently.  I said essentially free agents because teams sometimes do this to save money on arbitration eligible players.  If the Cubs think that they can still sign all three players but at a lesser cost, it makes sense to non-tender them and then sign them on the open market.  With that said, all three players are now in the FA pool and any team can sign them.

The did tender Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, James Russell, and Luis Valbuena.  All four of those players remain under Cubs control for 2013, and will go through the arbitration process early next year unless contract extensions can be worked out.

Thanks for reading,
– George

61-101; The 2012 Cubs Season is Over; a Recap, Kinda

Seems like just yesterday we here at Born on Third were getting ready to cover Opening Day, and just like that it’s over.  Crazy how time flies, and I didn’t expect it to go so fast given how bad the Cubs were this year.  I was expecting just the opposite, for it to drag on and on, and I guess it did towards the end there but the reality of no Cubs baseball for four months is starting to sink in.  Let’s take a look back at some of the surprises and disappointments that we all barely lived through, this season.

Let’s start with the disappointments, there were plenty of them, I mean the team lost 101 games, you know how hard it was to write about 101 losses!?  Sure the record was disappointing, but one could argue that it was expected, maybe 101 losses wasn’t expected, but the Cubs were going to be one of the worst teams in the league, we knew that.  Let’s dig a little deeper into that futility, we should probably put on a Haz-Mat suit before doing so.  The one thing we heard all offseason was this new “Cubs Way” – well that was thrown out there to mean a lot of things, one being patience, no not by the fans (we do need that though), but by the Cubs as a whole at the plate.  So how did that go, you ask?  Not very good, the Cubs drew 447 walks this season, that comes out to less than three a game, and was good for the fourth fewest in all of baseball.  You could probably guess that the Cubs OBP was terrible as well, it was, the Cubs as a team had a .302 OBP this year, 2nd worst in baseball.  This is something that has to change, and it will on Theo’s watch, I believe that it will.  It’s hard to see that vision come to fruition however when the team on the field in “year one” was so terribly bad at it, or just refused to do it.

Let’s take a look at some poor individual performances…

Chris Volstad
Volstad, acquired in the Carlos Zambrano trade was a disaster, I can’t even say that he showed flashes of brilliance, maybe a flash, but not flashes.  Volstad finished the season 3-12 with a 6.31 ERA, I can’t even spin that into anything positive.  Volstad had a huge opportunity this year and took a step back, but all is not lost on the gigantic right hander.  He will have every opportunity to pitch for this team next year, that is squarely on his shoulders, his huge shoulders, seriously, look at a picture of the guy pitching, it’s cartoonish.

Rafael Dolis
For the first month or so of the season it looked as if Dolis’ name was going to end up on the surprise portion of the year-end recap, then things went bad.  Dolis lost the strike zone, in doing so his confidence disappeared and his ERA sky rocketed.  Dolis went from being the closer of the Cubs after taking over for Carlos Marmol to pitching and struggling at Triple-A.  Dolis was called back up to finish off the season but the numbers were not good.  He finished the year 2-4 with a 6.39 ERA and four saves.  He does have one thing the Cubs need in the pen, a power arm, so he will have a shot to pitch for this team next year at 25 years old.  If he wants to do so he has to clean up the walks, as he issued 23 in just 38 innings at the big league level this year.

Ian Stewart
I debated singling him out here, only because he was clearly hurt since last year in Colorado so I’m not sure how much we can really take from his season.  But a lot more was expected from Ian Stewart, on the plus side he did play above average defense at third base.  His season was shortened by much-needed wrist surgery, he finished the year hitting 5 home runs and 17 RBI’s.  He did show the ability to work the count and take a walk, but at third base he was and will be expected to be a source of production.  It remains to be seen if the Cubs will keep Stewart in their plans moving forward, I would like to see what a healthy Ian Stewart could do.

Other guys that I would say had disappointing years would be Darwin Barney’s bat, a sub .300 OBP from him is not acceptable.  Lendy Castillo had a 7+ ERA, but Castillo is so young and could be a huge part of this teams bullpen when they are contending.  Steve Clevenger took a nose dive after a very strong start, Starlin Castro’s mental lapses and subsequent errors.  I think Castro improved greatly defensively, I think the errors were a result of focus or lack thereof.  Should I mention the 12 game losing streak?  I just did.

Now onto the positives, sure there were some.

Anthony Rizzo
He lived up to the hype, and there was plenty of it heading into the season and that hype only grew as he tore the cover off the ball in Iowa.  He finally was called up to the Cubs on 6/26/2012, he had two hits in that game and never really looked back.  Rizzo finished the campaign hitting .285 with 15 home runs, and 48 RBI’s in 87 games, so just over half a Major League season.  The biggest thing here is that Rizzo showed the ability to adjust to major league pitchers.  I’m not just talking about rebounding from last years dud with the Padres, this year he had a few skids but came out of those before they became too overwhelming.  He is the Cubs 2013 starting first baseman, and will be for many years to come.

Alfonso Soriano
Wow.  There really is no other word to describe his 2012 season, I guess shocked would apply to me.  I was just that, shocked at what Soriano was able to accomplish not only with the bat, but with the glove.  Soriano made one error all season, think about that for a second.  This is the same guy that made 11 in 2009, 7 in 2010, and 7 in 2011, he worked his butt off and showed real improvement.  Offensively he set a career high in RBI’s with 108, folks the Cubs only scored 613 runs as a team this season.  Soriano also found the long ball again hitting 32 home runs, the most in one season since he hit 33 in 2007.  There’s no telling he has earned the right to be back here next year, and that is somewhat up to him, but we will see how the Cubs deal with him in the coming months.

Starlin Castro
I really don’t care what other people think of him, but Starlin Castro had a fantastic year, and a couple of mental lapses got in the way of making it something really special.  Castro became the first Cubs shortstop to play in all 162 games, ever.  That shows me that he wants to be out there, mental errors can come with that kind of workload, he probably needed a day off here or there to avoid some of that but he just kept going out there.  Castro hit .283 with 14 home runs (a career high), and 78 RBI’s (a career high), he also had 29 doubles and 12 triples for good measure.  Castro inked a 7 year extension during the season, he will be a Cub for a long time, and that is a good thing.

There are a number of other guys that deserve to be mentioned as bright spots this year.  Darwin Barney’s glove, Barney tied a major league record for consecutive error-less games at 141, and got to everything on the infield it seemed.  Carlos Marmol’s second half, after a terrible first half Marmol finished the season strong and looked to be back to his un-hittable self late in the year.  Travis Wood stepped into the rotation and did an adequate job for this team, if he can replicate those numbers or even improve upon them he can be a serviceable back of the rotation guy for the Cubs.  Bryan LaHair’s first half was fun while it lasted, and earned him a trip to the all-star game, no reason to ignore that.  Welington Castillo played his way into the 2013 starting lineup behind the plate as

It was a trying year for many, Dale Sveum included, and as I said around the all-star break I think Dale Sveum gets an incomplete for this season.  There was not enough talent on this team to win baseball games, not matter how he managed them.  What I did like seeing was the compete level of this team on most nights, sure over the course of a 162 game season there are going to be lackluster efforts.  For the most part this team really never gave up, I will be interested to see how Sveum does when he starts getting pieces he can use to compete in games on a consistent basis, that’s when he can accurately be judged as a manager.  I could have written about so much more but I think that sums up enough of what happened this season without going on forever, I’m really excited about the direction of this team, most of that excitement stems from the minor league system which we will continue to profile all offseason.  Patience is still something fans will have to have as the Cubs are not going to have a team ready to be a contender next year.  Sure, they should improve, and that’s what we need to look for, and it’s important we see that, one step at a time, thankfully for all of us I think the worst part just ended.

Thanks for reading all season long, we don’t take breaks so we will have great Cubs coverage all offseason for you.  Go Cubs!

– George

Late Offensive Binge Propels Cubs

The Cubs have had their issues scoring runs, which is what makes what they did today that much more surprising.  In another close game it looked the Cubs were going to follow the same script they have so many times this year.  Play a competitive game then for whatever reason have the wheels fall off in the late innings, today they returned the favor to the Brewers.  A pair of solo home runs got the Cubs on the board in the 5th and sixth inning by Ian Stewart and Reed Johnson.  Heading to the 7th inning the game was tied and two and that’s when the Cubs offense kicked it into high gear.  One run in the 7th, two runs in the 8th, and three runs in the 9th resulted in the Cubs avoiding the sweep with a 8-2 victory.  The top of the order had a lot to do with the Cubs success today as the one, two, and three hitters combined to go 7-for-15, anytime that happens runs are usually in abundance.  Jeff Samardzija might not have had his best stuff but he was able to get through five solid innings to end up with a no decision.  Russell, Wood, and Bowden each worked a scoreless inning down the stretch to close out the Brewers.  Full box score and highlights after the jump.

Continue reading “Late Offensive Binge Propels Cubs”

Samardzija on a Roll, Beats Braves

Jeff Samardzija is quickly turning into one of, if not the best number three starter in baseball.  Samardzija’s brilliance was on display again last night as he went seven strong innings en route to a 5-1 Cubs victory, which moves Samardzija to 4-1 on the season.  The Cubs used the same recipe that has been working the last few games, home runs and solid pitching.  Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart went back-to-back in the 4th inning to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead.  Geovany Soto took the stress out of the ninth inning by launching a two run home run in the bottom of the 8th to give the Cubs some breathing room at 5-1.  Carlos Marmol had an eventful inning which saw him strike out Dan Uggla with the tying run at second base in the 8th after he walked the first two batters of the inning.  As the fog descended upon Wrigley Field James Russell recorded the final three outs for the Cubs victory.  Full box score and highlights after the jump.

Continue reading “Samardzija on a Roll, Beats Braves”

Shark Attack in Cincinnati; Cubs Beat Reds

Jeff “Shark” Samardzija was outstanding once again tonight winning his third game of the year.  He gave up one run on three hits, while striking out seven and walking two.  Helping Samardzija tonight was the Cubs defense as they made several good plays, including a great diving stop by Blake Dewitt to start a pretty inning ending double play.  Offensively, The Cubs got the scoring started in the second when Bryan LaHair led the inning off with a solo home run, his sixth of the year.  The Cubs then did something they have not done much this year when Ian Stewart hit his second home run of the year.  Yes, you read that correctly the Cubs hit two home runs in the same night.  The rare events would not end there as Geovany Soto extended the Cubs lead to 3-1 with a two out RBI single in the sixth, his first hit with runners in scoring position after previously going 0-10 this season.  Just to prove it was the Cubs night, Carlos Marmol worked a perfect ninth to end the game with no drama.  This was definitely a good win for the Cubs.  They made some several good plays defensively throughout the game, hit some homers, had a clutch two out hit, and got some great pitching.  Hopefully more good baseball to come as things have been a lot better as of late.  Full Box Score after the jump.

Continue reading “Shark Attack in Cincinnati; Cubs Beat Reds”