September is usually a busy roster month and the Cubs are doing nothing to dispel the notion. Two moves of note today, first, the Cubs purchased the contract of Chang-Yong Lim and DFA’d Michael Bowden. Lim is intriguing, the 37-year-old right-handed pitcher was signed this off-season as he was rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery. All that Lim has done since getting back on the mound is dominate, and has done so while pitching at four different levels this year. His most recent stop was at Triple A Iowa where he had an ERA of 0.79 in eleven appearances.
The second move of the day could end up being a big one. There were whispers that once the Red Sox cut Daniel Bard the Cubs would be front-runners to claim him, and they did. This season has been a disaster for Bard, think Rick Ankiel disaster, as Bard can’t find the plate. Bard tossed 6.1 innings in the minors this year and threw ten wild pitches and walked twenty-three, yes both numbers are correct. The Cubs don’t want that Bard, they want the Bard that was considered to be one of the best bullpen arms in baseball in 2010, and 2011. In 2010 Bard worked 74.2 innings while posting a 1.93 ERA, and in 2011 Bard worked 73 innings with a 3.33 ERA. If Bard can find that magic once again this could be a huge deal for the Cubs as they might have acquired the best set up man in baseball for nothing, well they had to DFA Cole Gillespie to make room, so Bard for Gillespie, I’ll take that chance.
Hello reader, wanted to give you a quick update on a change we are making to the minor league reports. Today we debut our new layout which will include one “spotlight game” this game will be much like the reports you are use to. We will break the game down by hitters and pitchers, a full recap so to speak. For the remainder of the minor league games we will provide a line score, and a box score that you can click a link to view. Instead of recapping all six games every night we will detail the top performers at each level. The goal here is to limit the amount of time it takes to recap everything given how many games there are now, but also provide information that you want. Thanks everyone.
At The Plate – This one was a pitchers duel for the majority of the game then things got crazy in the seventh. Iowa scored seven times to take an 8-2 lead, then Albuguerque bounced back with three in the eighth to make it a came before the Cubs shut the door on an 8-5 win. Seven of the nine guys in the starting lineup had hits for Iowa, and as a team the Cubs walked seven times (Cubs way!). Logan Watkins was 1-for-4 with a walk, a run scored, and his eighth stolen base of the season. Donnie Murphy only had one at bat but made the most of it as he was 1-for-1 with his tenth home run of the season, an RBI, and a run scored. Anthony Giansanti was 1-for-3 with his third double of the season, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
On The Mound – Guillermo Moscoso got the start for Iowa and struggled with his command but was able to pitch in and out of trouble to pick up his sixth win of the season. Moscoso worked six innings giving up two runs on two hits while walking five (command, see?) and striking out five. Michael Bowden worked a scoreless inning out of the pen, he gave up one hit while striking out two. Casey Coleman struggled in this one as he worked two-thirds of an inning giving up three runs on three hits while walking two and striking out one. Brian Schlitter was solid in picking up his ninth save of the year, he worked 1.1 scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking one and striking out two.
- AZL Cubs: Jeffrey Baez went 1-for-4 with his first home run of the season, an RBI, and a run scored.
- Boise Hawks: Shawon Dunston Jr. was 2-for-4 with a triple, and a run scored
- Boise Hawks: 2013 2nd round pick Rob Zastrynzy made his Cubs debut going one scoreless inning while walking one and striking out two.
- Kane County Cougars: Albert Almora was 3-for-4 with a walk, a stolen base, and two runs scored.
- Kane County Cougars: Jeimer Candelario was 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, a walk, and a run scored.
- Daytona Cubs: Pin-Chieh Chen was 2-for-2 with a double, and a walk.
At The Plate – After a stretch of some really solid baseball, and wins, the Iowa Cubs have found themselves struggling again. Iowa couldn’t really put anything together in this one; sure they scored three runs on eight hits but were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Dave Sappelt had a solid day going 2-for-4 with his first stolen base, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .276 at Iowa. Brent Lillibridge accounted for part of the offense; he was 1-for-4 with his fifth double of the season, and an RBI in the loss.
On The Mound – Chris Rusin was knocked around a bit in this one, but still managed to get deep into the game, unfortunately he was still hung with his fifth loss of the season. Rusin worked seven innings giving up five runs on twelve hits while striking out four. Michael Bowden was solid, as he was with the big league club for the most part, he worked 1.2 scoreless innings giving up one hit while walking one and striking out three. Casey Coleman worked just one-third of an inning in this one, and did it in a scoreless fashion.
At The Plate – Thanks to the weather Daytona only needed seven innings to take care of Brevard County 5-0. The top Cubs prospects are really starting to heat up at the plate; Javier Baez is one of those guys. After a monster day on Saturday Baez had a solid Sunday, he was 2-for-4 with an RBI, and a run scored and is now hitting .281 on the season. Ben Carhart had a solid game as well going 2-for-3 with a walk, and two runs scored. Jorge Soler was 1-for-4 with two RBI’s, that gives him thirty on the season, and he is now hitting .294 for the year.
On The Mound – Austin Kirk was all that Daytona needed as he went the distance for a “complete game” victory to improve his record to 6-2 on the season. Kirk worked six scoreless innings giving up five hits while walking three and striking out seven, he lowered his ERA to 4.50 in the victory.
At The Plate – Really nice win for the Cougars who have been struggling as of late, they needed extra innings but they got the job done. Big day from the big names in the Kane County order as the two through four hitters were a combined 8-for-13 with two doubles, a home run, and one RBI. Albert Almora looks to be back to 100% health as he was 3-for-4 with a double, and a run scored, he’s now hitting .475 on the season. Dan Vogelbach had a productive day going 2-for-4 with a double, his eight home run of the season (VIDEO), a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored. Jeimer Canderlario is really coming around as of late, he was 3-for-5 with three singles, he’s now hitting .259 on the season.
On the Mound – The Cougars pitching was outstanding in this one as they shut down a very good Cedar Rapids lineup. Michael Heesch got the start and did not factor in the decision, but was solid and kept Kane County in it. Heesch worked six innings giving up two runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out four. Steve Perakslis was brilliant out of the bullpen going three scoreless innings giving up two hits while walking one and striking out three. Eddie Orozco worked a scoreless tenth inning to earn his third win of the season as the Cougars walked off in the bottom half.
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 happened 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.
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 decision, 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 going 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. The 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!
Carlos Villanueva was so very good for parts of this season, but the last few times out have not gone so well. With the recent struggles it wouldn’t be surprising to see Villanueva head to the bullpen when Matt Garza returns. I know who he can replace, Shawn Camp , more on him later, he didn’t help his or the Cubs cause tonight. The Cubs were never in this one and it was over before it started it seemed as the Rockies jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the third inning. Things got worse in the fifth as the Rockies added two more to take a 7-0 lead, that’s when the Cubs woke up, with some help from the Rockies. The Cubs scored once in the fifth, and twice in the eighth to make it 7-3 but they wouldn’t get any closer. The Rockies tacked on two more runs in the ninth thanks to Carlos Gonzalez putting an exclamation point on his night with his second home run, he ended is evening 5-for-5 with two home runs, and three RBI’s. Seems about right when it comes to Car-Go and the Cubs. Two games in this series and two blow outs, one each way, wonder what tomorrow will bring.
At The Plate – The Cubs could only manage seven hits in this one, but they had their chances to score more than the four runs they did. The Cubs were only 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position in this one, and they left seven men on. David DeJesus was 2-for-5 with a run scored as he raised his average to .281 on the season. Darwin Barney found some magic in this one, he was 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, and two RBI’s, that performance raised his average to .186, going to need a few more of those from Darwin.
On The Mound – Carlos Villanueva was hit hard all night, even the outs were loud outs. Villanueva worked five innings giving up seven runs on twelve hits while striking out one, the loss dropped his record to 1-3 on the season. Hector Rondon continues to prove he belongs out of the pen as he worked a scoreless inning while walking one and striking out one to lower his ERA to 3.68 on the season. Michael Bowden also seems to be finding a comfort zone out of the pen, he worked two scoreless inning giving up two hits while striking out one. The only thing comfortable about Shawn Camp is how opposing hitters feel in the box against him. Camp is getting really close to be designated for assignment, he worked one inning tonight giving up two runs on three hits while striking out one, his ERA climbed to a robust 7.31 for the season.
Carlos Villanueva can’t buy a win as he has left with a lead in five of his seven starts this year, the Cubs pen has blown the lead now in four of those five starts. Villanueva didn’t have his best stuff today but still got into the seventh inning with a 4-3 lead. The usually reliable James Russell took over in the seventh and gave up back-to-back hits which resulted in the Cardinals knotting the game up. Michael Bowden worked the eighth inning and surrendered the game winning run as the Cubs couldn’t generate anything in the final two innings. The bullpen was half the story, double plays and missed opportunities were the other half. The Cubs seemingly had men on base all day long, but grounded into four double plays to thwart any rally they might have had. The Cardinals weren’t much better, but did get the big hit in the eighth inning when they needed it, but they also grounded in to four double plays, odd game in that regard for sure. Really wanted a sweep for the Cubs, and of course they were in position to get one, eventually these blown leads have to stop…..I think.
At The Plate – The Cubs pounded out eleven hits, but could only manage four runs as they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and they had that double play issue that I already mentioned. Luis Valbuena got a chance in the three spot today and delivered a solid game going 1-for-2 with two walks, and two runs scored. Anthony Rizzo continues to roll, he was 3-for-4 with a double, and a run scored, all of a sudden he is hitting .269 on the season. Cody Ransom continues to hit for the Cubs, he was 2-for-4 with two singles in the loss.
On The Mound – Carlos Villanueva wasn’t at his best, but did more than enough to pick up a win in this one, alas, a no decision for the funny facial hair guy. Villanueva went 6.2 innings giving up three runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out two. James Russell wasn’t his usual self in this one, he was asked to get the last out in the seventh, he did, but not after giving up a run on two hits. Michael Bowden worked the eighth and took the loss, he gave up one run on two hits. Kevin Gregg, the Cubs new closer (officially), worked a scoreless ninth to keep the Cubs in it, he walked one and struck out two.
Up Next – A day off tomorrow. Then a three game weekend series in Washington, the full series preview will be up tomorrow, going to be a tough series for sure.
Thanks for reading,