Baseball is back, and so is the unrelenting thunder that the Cubs can provide. We didn’t see much of it last year, but my goodness was it on display today. Bryant and Baez just smacked the Rangers around today, lets go to the video.
The Cubs take on the Diamondbacks today, Jeff Samardzija will get the start and we will hopefully see the longest start of the Spring. MLB.com has a free webcast of today’s game with Len Kasper handling the broadcast (audio only) beginning at 3:10 PM CST. Here is how the Cubs will get things started, the ever exciting Javy Baez gets the start at shortstop today.
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Minor league recap for August 3, 2012.
The AZL Cubs continued their tear beating the AZL D-Backs for their fifth straight victory. It wasn’t as easy as it should have been however as the D-Backs scored five times in the ninth, but the Cubs hang on to win 7-5. Dillon Maples made his second start on his road to recovery and turned in some solid work going 1.2 innings only allowing one hit while walking two and striking out one. Paul Blackburn, one of two 2012 supplemental draft picks continued his strong season. Blackburn worked 3.1 innings allowing only one hit while walking one and striking out two to earn his second victory of the season and lower his ERA to 1.86. 2012 draft picks Corbin Hoffner and Jasvir Rakkar also worked scoreless innings. It was another night of fireworks from the AZL Cubs offense. Albert Almora, who is on fire right now, went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and a run scored. Shawon Dunston, and Ben Carhart each had two hits on the night with Carhart recording his 8th double of the season. Jacob Rogers had a big night at the plate as well going 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI, a walk, and three runs scored.
The Boise Hawks raced out to a 4-0 lead, and held a 5-2 lead by the 5th inning but couldn’t hang on as Spokane plated three runs in the 8th on their way to a 6-5 win. Jose Arias didn’t get very deep into this one for the Hawks as he tossed 2.2 innings giving up two runs on four hits while walking three and striking out three. Arias left with the lead, but Hayden Simpson couldn’t hang onto it. Simpson worked 4.1 innings giving up three runs on six hits while striking out six. Eduardo Orozco only gave up only one run in his inning of work, but that was the deciding run as Orozco was hung with his first loss of the season. Gioskar Amaya had another solid night at the plate, what else is new? Amaya was 2-for-4 with his ninth triple of the season, an RBI, a walk, and a run scored, he is now hitting .315. Daniel Vogelbach continued to be a doubles machine as he was 1-for-3 at the plate with his 5th double while with Boise. Rock Shoulders had a productive night as well going 1-for-4 with his 6th home run of the season, a two run shot.
The Chiefs jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead against Quad Cities but couldn’t hang as they fell 4-2. Yao-Lin Wang continued his transition to the starting rotation as he went 5.1 innings giving up two runs on four hits while walking three and striking out six. Wang left with the game tied at two, and unfortunately Jeffry Antigua could keep the River Bandits off the board. Antigua went 1.2 innings giving up two runs on three hits while striking out two earning his first loss of the season. Javier Baez continued his assault on Single-A pitching in the loss as he was 2-for-4 with his 12th home run of the season, he also stole his 20th base. Baez is now hitting .336 on the season, and there are whispers that he is close to earning a promotion. Zeke DeVoss had a solid night at the top of the Chiefs order going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
The D-Cubs fell behind early, and couldn’t dig out of that hole as they dropped this one to Dunedin 6-2. Kyler Burke started for the D-Cubs, and was responsible for that hole I was talking about. Burke gave up three runs in the first and then settled down after that. He went five innings giving up three runs on four hits while walking two and striking out four. Hunter Cervenka had a rare awful outing as he struggled with his command in two innings of work, walking four and giving up three runs, two earned. Rubi Silva continued his strong 2012 season at the plate going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, he is now hitting .302 on the campaign. Christian Villanueva followed up his stellar Cubs debut by going 1-for-4 with a double and a spectacular catch in the field that I’m hoping to get video of shortly.
Smokies postponed, again.
Things seem to go from bad to worse for Iowa each night. Tonight was no different as the I-Cubs battled Colorado Springs all game before surrendering three runs in the top of the ninth to lose 4-1. Ryan Rowland-Smith got the start tonight and was outstanding as he went six strong innings giving up one run on two hits while walking three and striking out six. Jaye Chapman, who was acquired from the Braves a couple of days ago took the loss as he was knocked around in the ninth. Chapman worked one inning giving up three runs on three hits while walking one, he fell to 0-1 on the season. The I-Cubs were dreadful with runners in scoring position, and they had plenty of chances too, when it was all said and done they were 0-for-10 in the loss. Josh Vitters had a big night once again for Iowa, he went 3-for-4 with his 32nd double of the season. Vitters is now hitting .304 on the season as he continues to try to force the Cubs hand and give them no choice but to award him the promotion he deserves. Dylan Heuer has some great photo’s from the game, head on over to his website to check them out!
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Exciting day for the Cubs system as the Boise Hawks opened their season. Here is June 15th recap of the Cubs system.
Opening day for the Boise Hawks didn’t exactly end how they would have liked as the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes spoiled it with a 3-2 win in 12 innings. Jose Arias was outstanding in his first start of the season going five strong innings allowing no runs, on three hits while walking none and striking out two. Marco Hernandez really had a tough night, and was a big reason that the Hawks came up short. Hernandez made three errors, the final one allowed the winning run to score in the 12th, it’s too bad as he was 2-for-5 at the plate. Xavier Batista had a nice night at the plate going 2-for-4 with two doubles in the losing effort. Shawon Dunston Jr. was 0-for-3 in the lead-off spot but did manage two walks.
The Peoria Chiefs wasted no time in getting back to .500 as they came from behind to beat Clinton 6-4. The Chiefs fell behind early 3-0 but struck for five runs in the 5th inning to take the lead for good. Starling Peralta started for the Chiefs and struggled giving up four runs in 5.1 innings on five hits, but earned his first win of the season. The bullpen did a great job for the Chiefs as they went the final 3.2 innings without giving up a run. The Chiefs really knocked the ball around the park, pounding out 13 hits. Dustin Geiger stayed hot going 3-for-5 with an RBI, he is now hitting .324 on the season. Zeke DeVoss and Pin-Chieh Chen each had two hits while Javy Baez was 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored.
The Tennessee Smokies continued their unreal stretch winning their 10th game in their last 11 tries. The torrid run has brought the Smokies all the way back to the .500 mark on the season. Dallas Beeler started for the Smokies and pitched well, and out of a few jams. Beeler allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings of work to get his second win of the season. Logan Watkins had a great day in the lead-off spot as he went 3-for-4 with a walk, a run scored, and a stolen base. Junior Lake was 2-for-5 at the plate with two stolen bases, and two runs scored, he’s now hitting .294 on the season. Rebel Ridling had the big hit for the Smokies, a three run double in the first inning, he was 1-for-4 on the night.
It looked like the I-Cubs were well on their way to a victory then Mike MacDougal came into the game and did his best Mike MacDougal impression giving up three runs in the top of the 8th to lose 4-3. Frankie De La Cruz pitched very well for the I-Cubs, he went five strong innings giving up one run on five hits while walking two and striking out three. Alfredo Amezaga was 3-for-5 with an RBI out of the lead-off spot for the I-Cubs. Ty Wright and Juan Apodaca each had two hits in the losing effort. Anthony Rizzo made his return to the lineup and was 1-for-3 with a walk, but more importantly he was healthy enough to play.
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It hasn’t been the best week for Starlin Castro, or the Cubs for that matter. In the past week Castro has attempted a stolen base and didn’t slide (you rarely see that), and more troubling forgot how many outs there were on a potential inning ending double play so he didn’t even attempt to turn it. Some people say that it doesn’t matter because the guy would have beat the throw, wrong, it does matter, and it’s everything that Sveum, Theo, and the whole Cubs organization is trying to get rid of. The result of this rough week was Dale Sveum putting Castro on notice, ““It’s something that’s obviously unacceptable at any time,” Sveum said. “Whether we could have turned the double play is irrelevant to not knowing how many outs there are in the most important part of the game. These things have to stop happening or we’re just going to stop playing [him]. These kind of things are things my son does in high school. Maybe …. I’ll have a good talking to him. It’s the last straw. If he wants to play, he better start getting his head in the game, period.” Sveum has it exactly right, this can’t go on, and Sveum handled it correctly, something Cubs fans could learn from.
The overwhelming majority of Cubs fans be it on twitter, message boards, etc. are clamoring for Castro to be traded now. The erroneous USA Today report claiming that Castro could be had for the right price was what planted the seed in the head of Cubs fans, like Inception. Then Castro’s recent “brain farts” just made the thought of trading Castro make so much sense. Any good General Manager listens to offers for every player because there is no way of telling what another team thinks your player is worth until you hear what they will give up. That said, a great General Manager knows when to say no thanks, we will keep our superstar. I can see the argument from fans, I really can, move Castro and get two great prospects in return. I can see why some would say that, but I can’t see why a handful of mistakes from a 22-year-old are grounds to be traded. That leads me to ask the question, do Cubs fans really know what they have in Starlin Castro? My answer, no, they don’t.
Let’s break down the two different scenario’s that would be a reason to trade Castro. First, let’s say that some team will offer the Cubs two A level prospects in return for Castro. Seems like the perfect scenario for a rebuilding club that needs to get better in many areas. Plus the Cubs have the likes of Junior Lake and Javier Baez, both shortstops for now, rising through the system. Here is my problem with that. Junior Lake is the same age as Starlin Castro, yet fans can’t get enough of Lake because he is “already” at Double-A Tennessee. Guys, Starlin Castro received five Rookie of the Year votes in 2010, made the National League all-star team in 2011, and also received 23 MVP votes in 2011…. Junior Lake is in Double-A. Javier Baez is the other kid that gets mentioned when the talk of moving Castro comes up. You think Castro looks listless on the field, wait till you see Baez. The kid knows he’s good, and when that happens they come across to the average fan as not caring about their craft. Problem is the game is so easy for them and it has been for so long, kind of like it is for Castro right now. Baez currently sits at Low-A Peoria, and he’s doing well, he’s 19 years old….Starlin Castro hit .300 at the Major League level when he was 20. Seeing a trend here? Any “prospect” is just that, a prospect, no one knows how they will develop, why take the chance of having a prospect become a good player when Castro already is and he could be great. Same goes for what the Cubs would receive in one of these deals. There is no guarantee that anyone received in a deal, no matter how highly praised they are, turn out to be anything close to Castro, it’s not worth the risk.
The second scenario where Cubs fans could justify moving Castro is his mental lapses on the field during games. Think about that for a second, some Cubs fans are saying that an acceptable reason for saying goodbye to a 22-year-old shortstop that has 416 career hits in 338 career games is that he didn’t slide, or he forgot how many outs there were…. really? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making excuses for Castro, and I agree with the way Sveum is handling it by threatening a benching, but that’s it. Sure Castro needs to start focusing a lot better when playing this game, but his lack of focus is not even close to an adequate reason for dealing Castro. According to these fans then when Castro strolls into Wrigley five years from now (27 years old) and goes 4-for-5 with a home run, a triple, two stolen bases, and 4 RBI’s off of our still trying to figure it out pitcher it will be okay because he thought there was one out in an inning instead of two outs five years ago.
I have no problem with Cubs fans offering their opinion on what to do with Castro, but the fact that they think there is a need to do something with Castro other than sit back and watch him develop into an elite shortstop proves my point. Cubs fans do not know what they have in Starlin Castro. I know that the last thing fans need to see when a team is bad is a player that has repeated mental lapses. It’s easy to take your frustration out on Starlin Castro, but what he does contributes more towards winning than losing. Just remember who Castro’s influences at the Major League level have been. Year one, Lou Piniella on his farewell tour. Year two, Mike Quade who tried the approach that so many Cubs fans are right now, throw the best and youngest player on the team under the bus, we see how that worked out. Both years, Aramis Ramirez, if we learned anything from Aramis it was how not to hustle, how not to field your position, and how to care less about the game. Castro will get better with his focus, and with his production which is already terrific, if he doesn’t, he will sit down for a few games, but he will still be a Cub, and rightfully so.
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Here is Sunday’ Minor League recap, it’s not pretty as the whole organization took an o’fer.
We were in Kane County for this game, you can check out our recap here. Kyler Burke didn’t get any help from his defense on Sunday as he went five innings giving up five runs but only two of them were earned. Javier Baez didn’t start the game, but stole the show over the final four innings. In his first plate appearance he took the first pitch he saw and deposited it roughly 430 feet away over the center field wall to tie the game at five. Baez was also tremendous with the glove making three or four great plays, including two web gem efforts, just awesome. Taiwan Easterling was 2-for-5 at the plate with a double, and Oliver Zapata was 1-for-4 with a solo home run.
PJ Francescon didn’t have his best stuff, but it really didn’t matter as Daytona only managed one hit on the afternoon. Francescon went five innings allowing four runs on five hits, he suffered his second defeat of the season. Congratulations to Greg Rohan for getting the only hit for the D-Cubs in the loss. What hurts the most is coming into the game Boer had an ERA that was over 10, was expecting Daytona to tee off on him, but it wasn’t meant to be I guess. Matt Szczur didn’t play again, trying to get some updated information on him, hopefully it’s nothing too serious.
Nicholas Struck and company held Montgomery to two measly hits, but that was enough as they knocked off the Smokies 3-2. Struck tossed five and two-thirds of pretty good baseball only allowing three runs on two hits while walking two and striking out seven. The loss drops Struck to 5-6 on the season with a 4.41 ERA. The Smokies offense wasn’t much better than their opponent on Sunday. They only managed to plate two runs on five hits, with both runs coming in the 6th inning. Rebel Ridling was 1-for-3 with an RBI, and Michael Burgess was 1-for-4 with a double and the other RBI for the Smokies.
It was a weekend to forget for the I-Cubs as they dropped games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was an on and off day for Brooks Raley as he worked five innings and allowed five runs on nine hits, but he only walked one guy and struck out nine, he must have had too much of the zone too often. The I-Cubs bats got Raley off the loss, but unfortunately they couldn’t completely rescue the team as the I-Cubs fell 6-5 to Oklahoma City. Ty Wright was 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and an RBI. Anthony Rizzo, who has proven healthy that last couple days was 1-for-3 with a run scored and a walk.
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Born on Third traveled to Kane County today to take in the Peoria Chiefs game against the Cougars, here’s a recap, mostly pictures, from the day.
We actually bought the tickets before Javier Baez was assigned to Peoria, so it was a bonus that he was playing for the Chiefs and we couldn’t wait to see the 2011 first round draft pick of the Cubs. Unfortunately, the Peoria Chiefs politely warned us of something on the way to the game..
Yes, that was the Peoria Chiefs twitter account letting us know that Javy Baez was not in the lineup today, oh well I guess, at least we still get to see the Chiefs and Kyler Burke pitch. We got to the park around 11:30 because we were expecting the gates to open at 12 which is what the website said but they had the gates open already.
NOTE: Click the picture for the full size, it’s worth it! (Please feel free to use my pictures, but please ask, I would like some credit, thanks!)
Massive picture recap after the jump!