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End the Drought

End the Drought: A site geared towards commentary and analysis about the Chicago Cubs.

Updated: 2012-04-15T17:14:42.124-07:00



The 1st likely mistakes of the season:


According to the Chicago Tribune and Paul Sullivan it appears that the leadoff hitter will likely be Corey's to lose. Now, lets look at what qualities Patterson has to qualify him as the leading candidate to lead-off.

How much of a factor does the ability to get on-base matter to a lead-off hitter?

On-base percentages from last year:
Ramirez .373 (likely will be between .360-.370)
Nomar .364 (likely will be in the .340s)
Lee .356 (will likely be higher this year)
Barrett .337 (should carry over into 05')
Walker .352 (should be between .340-.350)
Hollandsworth .336 (career)
Burnitz .351 (career)
Patterson .320 (should be around .335 next year)

How much importance is there by a leadoff hitter's ability to work the count, draw a BB, while giving the #2 and #3 hitters a better gauge on the starting pitcher?

Pitcher per Plate appearance from last year:

Lee 3.94
Walker 3.85
Burnitz 3.85
Ramirez 3.62
Barrett 3.55
Patterson 3.46
Hollandsworth 3.34
Nomar 3.14

I tend to value the ability to reach base and the effect it has on the order later in that inning. The inning that the most runs are scored is the 1st inning, it should be treated as such. Another statistical fact, the winning team will likely score more runs in one inning than the losing team will the entire game. Patterson is a middle of the order hitter with the bonus of speed, not a top of the order speed hitter with the bonus of power. The way to separate the two is b/c of one reason and that is a little thing they are not looking at; OBP.

My ideal 05' line-ups:


Hairston (2B)

The line-ups are a nice intro into part II of the likely early mistakes of the 05' season, which will be concluded tomorrow.


Get that team a LOOGY!

This is an initial push to get Rusch out of the rotation and into a more important spot for the team (left handed relief). How can a situational lefty be more important than a starting pitcher? When a team lacks anyone who can get a LH batter out on a consistent basis that does not close games. With the loss of Kent Mercker, leaving Remlinger as the most likely candidate to retire opposing LH batters, it will be a long season for the micromanager inside of all of us, yelling fo the lefty when Dunn is up to bat. Unfortunately if that is Remlinger, is best pitch is a tailing change-up that breaks down and in on a LH batter which is where he wants it. Of course, there are other options as Will Ohman has very good stuff and will likely retire LHs, but doubtful he will make the opening 25 man roster. Also, there is Stephen Randolph who was acq'd from AZ for a PTBNL, good stuff but can't control it. There would have to be another piece to the puzzle for it to fit nicely and that would be the progression of another pitcher as the #5 starter, I would love see Mitre or Dempster become the #5 and keep it warm till Guzman shows some dexterity.

Here is the opponent's OPS. of left handed hitters from 2004' (LH pitchers are in bold) of the projected bullpen...

Dempster (only 27 ABs) .787
Hawkins (135 ABs, will likely close or set-up) .735
Wellemeyer (43 ABs) .863
Leicester (51 ABs) 1.092
Remlinger (66 ABs) .851
Borowski (32 ABs, we all know about his struggles vs. both LHs and RHs) 1.199
Rusch (120 ABs).569 OPS

Extremely simple and to the point, if the Cubs have only Remlinger in the pen as the token lefty, the Cubs will lose more close games than they did last year and that is hard to do.


It isn't you, Carlos!


Last week, Zambrano mentioned that one of his goals was to get stronger later in the season. For Carlos, getting stronger in the second half might be more of a negative than a positive, if he intends on adjusting his workout routine, he will be asking for trouble.

Carlos is one of the strongest pitchers in baseball, both in velocity and fatigue levels. For two years now Carlos has been one of the most abused pitchers finishing 3rd in 2004' and 10th in 2003' in Baseball Prospectus'Pitcher Abuse Points.

Want to know how to improve Carlos Zambrano as the season progresses? Monitor him more carefully. The concept of saving a pitcher for his next after the outcome has been decided has been a foreign concept for the Cubs (well beyond Baker's tenure).

Several examples from the 2004' season...

April 15-117 pitches in a 10-5 win (9-1 when he left the game)
April 20-111 pitches in a 9-1 win
May 13-114 pitches in a 7-3 win (6-1 when he was pulled)
May 30-110 pitches in a 12-1 win
June 5th-113 pitches in a 6-1 win
June 10th-121 pitches (12-3 win)
June 26th-128 pitches thru 6 in a 6-3 loss
July 2nd-124 pitches thru 6.1 (6-2 win)
July 29th-120 pitches in a 4-0 win
Aug. 11th-124 pitches in a 5-1 win
Aug. 23rd-115 pitches thru 6.2 in a 8-3 win
Sept. 6th-119 pitches in a 9-1 win
Sept. 17th-112 pitches in a 12-4 win
Sept. 27th-124 pitches thru 6.1IP in a 12-5 win

14 out of 31 starts the Cubs could have been more cautious w/Zambrano.

For those wondering, Zambrano went 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA in September.

It is obvious to me, instead of increasing the risk of an off-season injury (see Prior and Borowski) by trying to increase in-season stamina, have the Cubs use some caution in games that have likely already been decided.


Minor League Notes:

From Rotoworld:

" Felix Pie-His game still needs plenty of work, but Pie had an impressive 799 OPS as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League last year. The concern is the strikeout-to-walk ratio. He needs to do a better job of identifying which pitches he should be swinging at. If it comes with time, he could be the next Johnny Damon. It’s just as possible that Pie will never have the on-base skills to be a leadoff hitter, but since he does project as a strong defensive center fielder, he won’t need to be that great of a hitter to be a quality regular. He’s due to spend at least two more years in the minors."

" 6. Ryan Harvey-The sixth overall pick in the 2003 draft. The Cubs have taken things slowly with him because of the torn ACL he suffered prior to being drafted, but he’ll get to try out full-season ball this year. Harvey is still all potential at this point. He should develop 30-homer power, and he’ll probably reemerge as an above average runner now that he’s fully recovered from knee surgery. As he gains experience, he’ll turn into a strong defensive right fielder."

From the USA Today:

"With Mr. Sosa gone, Jason Dubois and Todd Hollandsworth are going to get increased face time in left field. By season's end, slugger, and I do mean slugger, Brian Dopirak might be ready for the majors. A team executive said Dopirak is the Cubs' Vladimir Guerrero, minus the arm."

I have no idea what that means, would Brooks Kieschnick have been the called the same thing back in 94'?

From the Daily Southtown:

"Angel Guzman, whom Baseball America has named the Cubs' top pitching prospect for two straight years, managed just 11 appearances in the minors last year after recovering from shoulder surgery in 2003. But the 23-year-old right-hander could be back stronger than ever. Farm director Oneri Fleita watched Guzman throw in a few sessions in Venezuela recently. "Angel told Oneri it's the best he's felt by far since before the surgery," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He's not taking as long to get loose again. "He will come to camp, but we're not going to rush him. I don't see a scenario he would break with the club because he missed so much time. I certainly would pencil him in at (Triple-A) Iowa, and if he can get out of the gate and have success and be his old self, we would be able to go get him."


The Annual Top 50 Prospect List (31-40):#40 Kevin Collins-Strong Season at Lansing, overshadowed by Dopirak and Sing as far as other power hitting OF/1B types in the system. He has one tool on offense, which is power, he isn't too old to where he can be counted out, but the poor season in 2003' hurt his chances of remaining in the system long enough to get to AAA without being left unprotected. He'll have to improve his eye at the plate to have any shot at the majors, his power will always never shut the door on him. He should head to Daytona and enjoy working w/Zisk, it was a nice rebound for him.#39 Will Ohman-Nice comeback story for him, came back from Tommy John Surgery, pitched fairly well at Iowa, nice K ratio, control should improve as the lingering effects from the surgery diminish. Pitched well in Winter Ball, features a low 90 FB and a slider with bite, probably the best LOOGY in the system with a chance to make to the 25 man roster (Pinto projects as a starter and Rohlicek is still a season away). Will either be the 2nd lefty in the pen, if Rusch is still a starter or will go to Iowa and likely close.#38 Jermaine Van Buren-Any time a player comes from the Indy Leagues and re-establishes himself, it is a great story. Van Buren spent the 03' season in the Central Baseball League and was sold to the Cubs late in 2003'. Designated in relief, Van Buren shined allowing only 23 hits in 53 innings, while striking out 10 more baserunners than he allowed. His stuff is similar to Ohman, low 90s FB and a decent slider, still not too old for the minors despite hitting the Indy League circuit. Will likely go to Iowa and compete against Ohman for the closer's spot.#37 Jerry Blevins-A potential reach at this spot, he had a real strong showing at Boise, used his upper 80s/low 90s FB well as well as his slider, projects as a future lefty specialist. The Cubs typically seem to have strong pens at Low-A, next year will be no different.#36 Dwaine Bacon-The little engine that could, the best baserunner in the system (I think Pie has more pure speed), who knows how to draw BBs and create havoc once on. 2004' was a disappointing for Bacon, his avg. dropped below .250 and despite the increase in BBs, his OBP dropped nearly 20 points and his Slg over 30 points. He'll be 26 in April and will likely be at Iowa leading off, Iowa has a little bit of a log-jam with Jackson, Kelton, and Greenberg right there, it'll be interesting to see how the Cubs OF plays out for Bacon. Bacon projects a 5th OF'er, a more glamourous version of Tom Goodwin.#35 Jake Fox-Had a solid season at Lansing, platooning with Rick at C, and will likely do the same at Daytona. Showed the same the power that made him a 3rd rd. pick, while improving defensively, has been better than I expected defensively, while not showing the plate patience I seen from him at Michigan. Defensively, he's behind Rick (who projects as avg. at this point) and will likely see more time at DH than C. He will have to cont. to work at being at C and improve his BB totals to project as an everyday C in the majors, the dropoff is severe going from C to 1B as far as projection unless you can hit like Daric Barton.#34 Darin (not Scott) Downs-Showed the promise and the health I was looking for last off-season, still has the upper 80s FB and nice curve. Improved his numbers and IP at Boise last year, should start at Lansing and see IP increase as the Cubs have been very cautious with him. Still needs to improve his control and did a solid job of limiting his HRs in a hitter's league, I expect him to breakout next year.#33 Russ Rohlicek-Another LH reliever has made the list, amazing to see 3 so far and the major league squad has one (Remlinger) and he is better against RHs than LHs. Converted starter turned reliever had a very strong year, ERA around 2.00, 44 hits in 69 IP, a K ratio just under 9, and only allowed 2HRs in the last years (134IP). His main problem has been his control, BB'ed 42[...]



The Annual Top 50 Prospect Listing:

#50 Tony Richie-Still bothered by shoulder problems was able to hit .314/.373/.389 at Boise, should be heading to Wes Tenn if not hit w/injuries, still projects as a weak hitting starting C or an above avg. backup. I suspect he'll end up at Lansing.

#49 Carlos Vasquez-Just quietly going thru the system with an avg. FB and slider, any chance of him making it to the majors will depend on his ability to improve from medicore numbers at Daytona. Probably end up in the West Tenn pen.

#48 Micah Hoffpauir-Micah did improve over his 2003' numbers and showed an increase in power despite hitting in the Southern League. He was a product of being overshadowed by fellow 1B, Dopirak, Collins, and Sing. He will be at Iowa next year.

#47 Chris Shaver-4th round in 2004, featured an upper 80s to low 90s FB and solid slider from the LH side, started at Boise and put up ok numbers, will likely be a starter at Peoria, but projects out of the pen.

#46 Alberto Garcia-Continues to hit, continues to search for a position on the field and how to draw BBs. Will go to Daytona and likely play 3B, 1B, and OF possibly in the same week.

#45 Sean Gallager-Another 04' draftee, that pitched well at Mesa, displaying a 92MPH FB and the best curve in the 04 draft. Has the build to progress nicely, he will need to develop a change, if his FB has reached its peak velocity. Likely to begin at Boise, possibility to start at Lansing, but very doubtful.

#44 Eric Eckenstahler-PTBNL in the Felix Sanchez deal, pitched decent after the trade after he regressed w/Toledo. 28yo., with limited ML experience and hasn't improved his control isn't positive, but hard to pass up a LH with a 92FB and solid breaking pitch. Will probably maintain the same role he has for the last 3 years as a AAA LOOGY.

#43 Luis Montanez-I'm a sucker for punishment, 10 years from I might still be including him for nostalgia purposes. He showed what he could have done if he had not been rushed after his MVP season in the AZL. Shifted to OF, actually he is not than the college seniors that liter the Northwest League.

#42 Carmen Pignatiello-My greatest fears for him came true, the progression from going from High-A to AA was too much for him. The ability to get by with deception of a change, decent breaking pitch and a mid 80's FB wore off. Will either be held back at West Tenn. or go to Iowa as a LOOGY.

#41 Mitch Atkins-maybe a reach here, but the 04' draftee (7th round) has a nice ceiling with him as he has a nice build, good 88-92 FB, and the makings of a plus breaking pitch and change. Will be better off with plenty of off-season work at Fitch and a season at Boise.


The Drought is Over!


Well, for this Blog it is. The recent dealings have sparked my motivation again to write.

Much has been said about the trade, on paper the Cubs have traded a aging superstar still possible of hitting in the .850s-900s OPS level/.290-.310 EqA for a utility infielder and two prospects who rank in the 15-30 range in the Cubs system and the possibility of a 3rd. I can't forget the 10+ mil heading to Balt. for charity reasons.

Despite that, I am not upset as the Cubs made their bed and had to pay the consequences of stooping to the level of a PR war with no possible winner.

Mike Fontenot is a 2B who has a decent stick, below par defensively, can draw BBs, needs to increase contact as he progresses, I would rank him lower than Richard Lewis at this stage. The other prospect that is known is RHP Dave Crouthers who is a RH who will shifted to the pen for 06' as his struggles, mostly from confidence problems will likely make him glossy bullpen guy. I would rank Leicester ahead of him at this stage within the Cubs system as far as current pitchers within the system w/similar roles.

As far as justification of the trade, new prospects in roles within the organization that are already filled will likely be a transfer pass to another club.

The players I am interested in are very common names Aubrey Huff, still in his prime, will be expensive, and would fit nicely to give a LH bat w/power. He would be able to replace the void from Alou's productive 04' campaign, his ZiPS projection .890 would rank the highest on the team for 05'.

Brad Wilkerson, who might be the choice among the Cubs brass, given his inability to hit for avg., but manages to create havoc for opposing pitchers and can hit at the top of the order despite plus power.

Austin Kearns, my sleeper among the group as Gary Hughes and Kearns have a past in Cincy and the current surplus of OF'ers might make a possible trade target. I hope his recent injuries have decreased his trade value as I predict a breakout season for him similar to his rookie campaign, ZiPS tends to go along with my belief system predicting a .285/.388./473 line in 347 ABs.

Getting Huff becomes a must at this stage, to include someone like Kearns to compliment Huff, would likely improve the Cubs OF (both offensively and defensively last year) and relying on Nomar trying to reduce the reduction in offense over last year becomes less of a burden on him.

It would drain a good portion of the pitching prospects near the ML level, I would expect several of Mitre, Guzman, Brownlie, Wellemeyer, Nolasco, Brownlie, and Leicester and potential positional prospects to get a combo of Huff and Kearns, but the short-term/long-term benefits outweigh the long-term benefits of having a pitching surplus 1-2 years from now.

I'm also a proponent of trying to get Dotel from Oakland, but like a domino, one needs to fall 1st and that would be getting Huff from TB.


Callis weighs in on a potential 5th starter next year:

"Tim from Chicago asks:
With Matt Clement almost certainly gone next year, which pitcher has the best chance to be the Cubs fifth starter next year: Renyel Pinto, Bobby Brownlie, Angel Guzman or Ryan Dempster? Thanks.

Jim Callis: What about Sergio Mitre? He had a very nice year in Triple-A and would be a $300,000 option that would allow the Cubs to allocate more funds toward their offense. But I suspect that Dusty Baker will give Ryan Dempster every opportunity to win that job."

Personally, I'm all for giving it to the best pitcher which includes the pitchers mentioned above as well as Leicester and Wellemeyer who have started for most of their minor league career. Guzman has the best stuff of the group, but can use some time at Iowa to stay healthy and get some IP, something he hasn't done. Brownlie and Pinto can both use IP at Iowa as well. That leaves Dempster, Mitre, Wellemeyer, and Leicester as the potential starters. I'd like to see Wellemeyer get the job out of those 3, he would have the chance to improve his breaking pitch and improve his control, he has the biggest upside out of those 4.


Rotoworld on Dubois:

"Jason Dubois ... 25, has to be taken seriously as a future regular after hitting .316/.389/.630 in his first season in Triple-A. He doesn’t have any star potential, but his power should make him a solid everyday left fielder for a few years. The Cubs will have an opening for him once they decline Moises Alou’s 2005 option. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll let him play, though. They need to trade him if they’re not going to use him, as he has nothing left to learn in the minors."


Dopirak or Harvey:

Jim Callis still think very highly of a extremely gifted Ryan Harvey.

"Harvey is more athletic and can do more things than Dopirak, but Dopirak really tore up the low Class A Midwest League this year. I'd give Dopirak maybe a slim, slim edge, but that may change by the time I get around to doing our Cubs Top 30 in the offseason."


Note on Felix Pie:

Jeremy Deloney, Baseball Miscellany, on Felix Pie CHN :

" ... The Cubs have often lacked a legitimate leadoff hitter and they have to look no further than their own high A affiliate in Daytona. CF Felix Pie ranks among the top minor league leadoff men for his speed and his ability to make contact. He doesn’t yet have the on base abilities that are generally required in today’s #1 hitters, but he’s only 19 years old ... The only tool that some scouts question now is his ability to hit for power. Of course, at 6’2” 175 pounds, Pie still has some growing to do and could stand to add valuable muscle to his upper body ... has the potential to steal 40+ bases in the big leagues if he can learn to get on base more. His speed also helps him immensely in the outfield. Despite his youth, he shows above average defensive skills including a strong arm, good range, and sound instincts. Pie may not ever win a Gold Glove, but he certainly doesn’t lack for effort ... From an offensive standpoint, Pie has a lot of work to do. At least the Cubs can be patient in his development ... Because Pie has such raw abilities, the Cubs would be wise in taking things slow with him. Next year he’ll most likely be in Double A with West Tennessee. He will most certainly work on making more hard contact and pulling the ball to unleash his power potential ... If he can add a little more power and more patience at the plate, Pie might be able to push Corey Patterson to an outfield corner (or another organization) in 2-3 years."


Changing Styles:

No, this is not about converting the Cubs offense from a 3-run HR to a small ball offense for next year (although, Beltran and Renteria would be a boost of speed at the top). This is about this blog and what I write in the manner it is written, there are plenty of better blogs out there as far as thought provocation and information both at the major and minor league levels than mine.

I will concentrate on stories not just random info. as stats, rankings, and tools evaluations are great; the way they got there is even better. I will still try and include Cubs info at various points just not as frequent as in the past.

I'm sorry to those who enjoy this blog in the current format as I have rec'd some wonderful remarks via Haloscan and e-mail. The Cubs would still be a focal point, just not as much as my writing, and the story within an article.

I'm currently in the infancy stages of an article concerning Aussie baseball and it will take time to complete the article in the manner I feel necc. to complete rather than patching items together as my blog portrays.


Setting the Cubs rotation: The season is undecided, the expectations resting upon the final 30 days of the season, and 96 years of pressure destined to be mentioned. This is crunch time, 130+ games have meant very little and it comes downs to these final series. The pitching match-ups are key, the Cubs have relied on their starting pitching through an inconsistent offense and key injuries to stay in the race for post-season glory. The rotation is comprised of overworked starters and inconsistent pitchers coming off injuries, showing glimpses of what they were a year ago, but not enough to feel 100% confident in. Baker has set the rotation for the rest of the year, the horses are now set and expected to jump the 1st hurdle; getting into the playoffs. Remaining Schedule: C=Clement Z=Zambrano M=Maddux P=Prior W=Wood R=Rusch 9/6 Mont=Z 9/7 Mont=C 9/8 Mont=M 9/9 FLA=W 9/10 FLA=P 9/11 FLA=Z 9/11 FLA=R/C (on 3 days rest) 9/12 PIT=C 9/13 PIT=M 9/14 PIT=P 9/15 CIN=W 9/16 CIN=Z 9/17 CIN=C 9/18 CIN=M 9/19 CIN=P 9/20 FLA=W 9/20 FLA=R/Z (on 3 days rest) 9/21 PIT=Z 9/22 PIT=C 9/23 PIT=M 9/24 NYM=W 9/25 NYM=P 9/26 NYM=Z 9/27 CIN=C 9/28 CIN=M 9/29 CIN=W 9/30 CIN=P 10/1 ATL=Z 10/2 ATL=C 10/3 ATL=M There are some issues to be addressed with how Baker has this setup, it is set-up so that the two most overworked pitchers from 2004' are potentially geared for the two double-headers, and the most starts by Clement. Also the 6 most important games of the month will be against the Marlins and this sets up as 2 starts by Wood, 2 starts by spot starters, 1 start by Prior, and 1 start by Clement. This setup will lead to a more likely chance of one of the starters having a poor start as Wood and Prior have been the most inconsistent in the rotation and that is before factoring the likely spot starter (Rusch). The rotation can be setup more effectively and this is how I would manufacture the rotation... C=Clement Z=Zambrano M=Maddux P=Prior W=Wood R=Rusch 9/6 Mont=W 9/7 Mont=P 9/8 Mont=M 9/9 FLA=C 9/10 FLA=Z 9/11 FLA=W 9/11 FLA=R/P (on 3 days rest) 9/12 PIT=P 9/13 PIT=M 9/14 PIT=C 9/15 CIN=Z 9/16 CIN=W 9/17 CIN=P 9/18 CIN=M 9/19 CIN=C 9/20 FLA=Z 9/20 FLA=R/W (on 3 days rest) 9/21 PIT=W 9/22 PIT=P 9/23 PIT=M 9/24 NYM=C 9/25 NYM=Z 9/26 NYM=W 9/27 CIN=P 9/28 CIN=M 9/29 CIN=C 9/30 CIN=Z 10/1 ATL=W 10/2 ATL=P 10/3 ATL=M As previously mentioned the two series vs. Florida are key and this sets up as 2 starts by Rusch, 2 by Zambrano, 1 by Wood, and 1 by Clement, which is a better matchup than what it is shaped up to be. Also if the Cubs go short-handed vs. Florida, instead of the most overworked pitchers for the doubleheaders, it would be the least worked pitchers. By giving Zambrano and Clement an extra 3 days rest, I think it would help down the stretch, at this point they are rusty and is dependent on their off-day schedules and how effectively they use them. Another key point is the possibly of a 1 game playoff, with the current rotation it would likely be Prior in the 1 game playoff, the rotation I would employ would have Clement as the playoff starter. I think Clement at this stage gives the Cubs a better chance of winning that game moreso than Prior.[...]


Minor League All-Stars:

(Cubs prospects will be in bold)

Pacific Coast
C Rose Mike
1B Johnson Dan
2B Burke Chris
3B Atkins Garrett
SS Barmes Clint
OF Allen Chad
OF Church Ryan
OF Riggs Adam
DH Pickering Calvin

RHP Sweeney Brian
LHP Downs Scott
RP Reyes Al
MVP Johnson Dan
PIT Downs Scott

(no Iowa Cubs were selected)

C Willingham Josh
1B Gutierrez Jesse
2B Lewis Richard
3B Encarnacion Edwin
SS Wilson Josh
OF Schumaker Skip
OF Stern Adam
OF Calzado Napoleon
OF Nelson Brad
DH Sain Greg
U Bergolla William
RHP Rose Brian
LHP Pinto Renyel
RP Baker Brad
MVP Lewis Richard
MVP Baker Brad

Florida State
C Alfonzo Eliezer
C Martin Russell
1B Sing Brandon
2B Young Delwyn
3B Baldiris Aarom
SS Guzman Joel
U Cota Carlo
OF Murton Matt
OF Pie Felix
OF Davenport Ron
U Roberson Chris
DH West Jeremy
P Connolly Jon
P Broxton Jonathan
P Papelbon Jon
P Ramirez Ismael
RP Buzachero Edward
RP Sierra Edwardo
MVP Sing Brandon
MVP Ramirez Ismael

C Barton Daric
1B Dopirak Brian
2B Kendrick Howie
3B Duncan Eric
SS Kinsler Ian
OF Collins Kevin
OF Dickerson Chris
OF Frazier Alex
DH Rottino Vinny
RHP Knox Brad
LHP Bondurant Steve
RP Zimmermann Bob
RP Rapada Clay
MVP Dopirak Brian

C Nickeas Mike
1B Dale Lachlan
2B Dean Erik
3B Macri Matt
SS Cabrera Asdrubal
OF Herrera Javier
OF Montanez Luis
OF Horwitz Brian
DH Carter Chris
RHP Shappi A.J.
LHP Nottingham Shawn
RP Blevins Jerry
RP Miller Jim
MVP Herrera Javier


Minor League Notes:


Cubs' slugger Brandon Sing and Jay's starter Ismael Ramirez took the top prizes in the Florida State League.

Sing came within inches of matching the Florida State League's record for most home runs in a season Wednesday night. However, a gusting wind pushed a would-be home run against the Palm Beach Cardinals to the wrong side of the left-field foul pole and Sing had to settle for the 32 homers he hit this season ... Sing didn't get the record. But he did get a handsome consolation prize -- the league's most valuable player award that officially will be announced today. "I didn't get the 33 (home runs) but I did get the MVP," Sing said. "I'll take that, especially after what I went through last year. The 33 was almost there. If it came, it came. Now the hurricane's coming." Sing finished the year leading the league in five offensive categories, including homers (32, RBIs (94) and runs (86). (Daytona Beach News-Journal)


Scouting the Minor Leagues:

DJ over at Any Team Can Have a Bad Century who also writes at Northside Baseball and myself have decided to work together in a listing of the players with the best tools in the Cubs' minor league system. We have listed the catagories that are usually most important when scouting minor leaguers, I would like to thank DJ for allowing me to assist him in reviewing the Cubs system. I will post his results this Monday and then you will be able to compare and contrast our lists.

Best Hitter:
1)Felix Pie
2)Matt Murton
3)Brian Dopirak
4)Richard Lewis
5)Micah Hoffpauir

Best Power:
2)Ryan Harvey
3)Brandon Sing
4)Jason Dubois
5)Kevin Collins

Strike Zone Judgement:
1)Ryan Theriot
4)Anthony Granato
5)Adam Greenberg

3)Chris Walker
4)Casey McGehee

Best Baserunner:
1)Dwaine Bacon
3)Buck Coats

Fastest Baserunners:
4)Nic Jackson

Best Pitcher:
1)Angel Guzman
2)Bobby Brownlie
3)Andy Sisco
4)Ricky Nolasco
5)Reynel Pinto

Best FB:
2)Billy Petrick
3)Carlos Marmol
4)Chadd Blasko (depending on rehab results)
5)Jason Wylie

Best Curve:
1)Sean Marshall
3)Richard Hill
4)Darin Downs
5)Jae Kuk Ryu

Best Slider:
2)Luke Hagerty
3)Michael Wuertz
5)Jon Leicester

2)Carmen Pignatiello
3)Jon Connolly
5)Todd Wellemeyer

3)Bear Bay

1)Russ Rohlicek
3)Clay Rapada
4)Jermaine Van Buren
5)Eric Eckenstahler

All Defensive Team:
C-Jose Reyes
2B-Robinson Chirinos
SS-Ronny Cedeno

Best Arm-OF:

Best Arm-IF:

Most exciting Player

Most Exciting Pitcher
1)Richard Hill


September call-ups: Typically an entertaining time of year for Cubs fans like myself who lust after the minor leagues and Cubs' prospects, when we get a quick peek of a player we've been reading about in Baseball America for years or maybe caught a game in Lansing, MI or Jackson, TN. These players would likely be replacing aging veterans who have been brought in as cheap stop-gaps and led the Cubs to basement of the NL Central to battle Milwaukee. Like all cycles, it has changed as these call-ups may have a potentially larger role in determining the fate of team in contention for the post-season. This is a quick rundown of who is possibly going to have an impact and what type of impact that might be. Ben Grieve: Not your typical Sept. call-up, he will be serving the role as 4th OF'er/LH PH'er, he is an adequate 4th OF'er for a club going for the playoffs, will provide some pop and some runs allowed with his defense. Given the rest patterns of Sosa and Alou, he will see some action in the OF, this final month and likely be replaced by Goodwin in late innings. His potential impact is a 5 out of 10, key situational ABs are key for a team as poorly managed as the Cubs and as inconsistent as they are. Mike DiFelice: Typical lack of ability 3rd C, not much offense, solid defensively, and he'll allow the Cubs to use Bako is a more significant PH role (sarcasm) or Barrett when Bako is catching Maddux. Keep him away from as post-game celebrations, he'll possibly get rowdy. Not much impact for a 2nd string C, even less for someone with the skills of DiFelice. His potential impact is a 2 out of 10, likely to get under 10 ABs, maybe prevents a stray slider late in a ballgame. Sergio Mitre: His rough start to the season will likely have a negative impact on a potential Sept. appearance, he pitched well at Iowa and deserves another shot in the majors this year. He did much better against LHs at Iowa than the majors, but will likely be restricted to long-relief/situational RH. His impact is determined by Baker's usage pattern which will likely restrict his potential impact. Likely his impact will be 2 out of 10, if the Cubs need an extended outing in relief or the pen is running short is where he'll be needed. Jason Dubois: With the acquisition of Grieve, he projects as a 5th OF/RH PH'er, he can become an important piece of this team as he should become the top RH PH'er with power as Grudzielanek (when not starting) likely has the most power from the RH side off the bench. I doubt Baker will use him as a starter unless the season has been decided and like last year, it doesn't appear to be the case. He didn't get much of a chance when Sosa was on the DL and was benched over the likes of Macias in RF, so I doubt he'll get many ABs as a starter. Likely potential impact is a 3, he'll get a better chance to prove himself in Mesa. Eric Eckenstahler: Can be used as a LOOGY, with Mercker going down via suspension for his role in the Astros series, Eck might have a more important role than previously expected during that series. His stuff is that of a LOOGY, nice FB (92), sharp breaking slider (threw a 1-7 curve in HS), but lacks consistent control and at times will remind some of Andy Pratt when he is having trouble around the plate. I hope Eck has a significant role out of the pen, Dusty will like his size, Eric should benefit from the coaching staff. Potential impact is a 3, previous ML experience combined with a LH'er with a strong arm raises the potential impact. Neifi Perez: The Dungeons & Dragons fan club have likely closed their Excel spreadsheets for a brief second and wandered[...]


Minor League Notes:

Cubs' 2B prospect, via ATL, and SD reliever, via BOS, picked as the best of the Southern League :

"Richard Lewis was named the 2004 Southern League Most Valuable Player ...The honor comes almost a month after the Chicago Cubs promoted him to AAA Iowa. Lewis ranks among the Southern League leaders in several categories, including batting average (second, .329), triples (second, 10), and slugging percentage (second, .532). He was the starting second baseman for the Western Division squad in the 2004 Southern League All-Star Game. Lewis, originally a first round pick (40th overall) of the Atlanta Braves in 2001, was acquired by the Cubs via a trade before the start of the 2004 season."


Minor League Notes:

Ricky Nolasco ... Pitcher of the Week for August 20-26. Nolasco put together a pair of stellar starts last week, allowing just one earned run and six hits in 13.2 innings of work. He struck out 16 batters for the week, while limiting opponents to a .136 batting average. Nolasco, a fourth round selection of the Cubs in the 2001 draft, is ranked the number 20 prospect in the Chicago system by Baseball America. (Southern League)


Mathes named co-NWL player of the week:

The 16th rounder from Western Michigan is making a strong showing.

Mathes registered a 2-0 record and a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings of work last week. He allowed nine hits and just three earned runs, striking out eight and walking but three. He held opponents to a .225 batting average.

The southpaw allowed just three hits and one earned run to notch his first professional win, a 3-1 verdict over Tri-City Tuesday night.

Sunday night, not nearly as sharp, but still held on for an 8-7 victory over Salem-Keizer. Mathes surrendered just six hits and two earned run in six innings of work, striking out three and walking none.

In his nine outings, five of which have been in a starting role, Mathes is 2-0 with a 3.89 ERA. In 37 innings, he has allowed 33 hits, 16 earned runs, striking out 34 while walking but seven batters.


Dopirak claims first ever league MVP


(Courtesy of OurSportsCentral)
August 26, 2004 - Lansing, MI-Brian Dopirak’s first full season of professional baseball has turned a few heads around not only the Midwest League, but also all of professional baseball.
The 20-year-old Crystal Beach, FL native’s outstanding 2004 campaign just got better as he was named the Midwest League’s Most Valuable Player and the Prospect of the Year on Wednesday. The first baseman becomes the first Lugnut player to capture the league MVP award. The Midwest League All-Star was also named to the 2004 Midwest League Post-Season All-Star squad with Lugnut teammates Kevin Collins and Clay Rapada, who also joined Dopirak in Cedar Rapids earlier in the season for the All-Star Game. The three Lansing players are the most from any team. In all, nine of the 14 Midwest League teams were represented.

Dopirak, who has set new franchise records in homeruns and runs batted in this season, is currently batting .297 with 36 homers and 102 runs batted in. He earlier collected a 27-game hitting streak, the second longest in Lugnuts’ history and the third longest in all of minor league baseball. In the Midwest League, Dopirak is currently second in total hits, runs batted in, doubles and slugging percentage. His 68 extra-base hits lead the league.

Collins, who missed more than three weeks with a shoulder separation, is also having a monster year for the Lugnuts. Named as an outfielder, the Tampa, FL native has knocked out 31 homers and leads the league in overall slugging percentage. His 24 doubles are second on the club and he trails Dopirak by 12 for the lead in extra-base hits. On the season, he is batting .286 with 31 homers and 76 RBI.

Rapada, the lefty relief specialist from Chesapeake, VA, has amassed a 6-5 record in a team-high 52 appearances while compiling a 2.14 ERA. From April 18th through May 28th, Rapada did not allow an earned run over 15 outings, a season-high for relievers.

The Lugnuts open defense of their 2003 Midwest League Championship on Wednesday, September 8th as they play Game 1 of the Midwest League Divisional Series on the road at a site to be determined. Game 2 is the next night at Olds Park with fans enjoying a Molson Thirsty Thursday ($2.00 beers, $2.00 sodas and four buffalo style chicken wings for just $2.00).


A Model of Frustrating Futility:


Tomorrow can be a milestone of sorts, if the Cubs win, it'll be the 1st time 15 games above .500 in 451 games, which was October of 2001'.

To get to 20 games above .500 (92 wins) which is what it will likely take to get to the playoffs, you have to go back 2326 games to Sept. of 1989'.

To get to 25 games above .500 (94 wins), you have to go back 2971 games, almost 20 years, dating back to the end of 1984'.


Corey Patterson, Vernon Wells, or Alfonso Soriano: Player A: 25yo. XBH ratio-40.3% ((2B+3B+HR)/AB) BB/AB-8.6% K/AB-15.2% BBIP-.301 ((H-HR)/(AB-HR-K)) .281 Avg .340 OBP .463 Slg .277 EqA Player B: 25yo. XBH-34.5% BB/AB-7.4% K/AB-24.4% BBIP-.351 .290 Avg .344 OBP .475 Slg .278 EqA Player C: 28yo. XBH-36.3% BB/AB-5.6% K/AB-19.5% BBIP-.307 .279 Avg .325 OBP .479 SLG .268 EqA Batter Profiles: Soriano: With incredibly powerful wrists, and swinging one of the longest, heaviest bats in the game, Soriano thinks he can hit anything. He's almost right. Few players are better at golfing a pitch at, or even below, the knees. He can get around on anyone's fastball, even on the inside half of the plate. And he always swings from the heels. Patient he is not, however. He'll take a strike, but not two, and he ends many at-bats without having seen a single one. With the success he's had as a hyper-aggressive, bad-ball hitter, it's somewhat understandable that Soriano would be reluctant to change. Still, it can be maddening to watch pitchers see how far off the plate they can get him to chase, as Pedro Martinez repeatedly did in the playoffs. Patterson: After batting mostly first or second in his first two years, Patterson was moved down to sixth last year, then third. The change released him from the pressure to do something he wasn't good at-work the count and get on base-and allowed him to be aggressive and look to drive the ball-his natural style. Patterson's approach still needs refinement, as he remains vulnerable with two strikes. Although he was as aggressive as ever at the plate, he showed better judgment in choosing which pitches to take. He'd had problems with lefties in the past but showed marked improvement against them last year. Wells: An RBI machine, Wells has driven in 100 runs in both of his full major league seasons. A line-drive gap hitter, Wells looks for low fastballs and powders mistake breaking pitches. Seemingly with each passing month, he's showing more patience at the plate and becoming more adept at recognizing and hitting offspeed material. Strong, serene, cerebral and very disciplined, he studies pitchers by routine. In 2002, Wells hit .248 against pitchers during his first at-bat in a game, and improved as the game progressed. With an enhanced knowledge of AL pitchers, he averaged .336 in his first at-bats against pitchers last season. Using the 3-2-1 point system: (3 highest-1 lowest) Patterson-18 Wells-16 Soriano-14 So far offensively, Patterson has been better offensively and defensively, he has been above avg., and is the youngest of the trio. This has been quite a turnaround for Patterson, his numbers are creeping to the equiv. of last year as far as EqA. Amazing what happens when a player isn't given up on, I'm glad those idiotic Finley for Patterson died as quickly as the Nomar trade came upon us.[...]


Player Comparison:

Ryan Harvey vs. Brian Dopirak.



Basically 2 peas in a pod, same HS, similar type of hitters, high ceiling, and high power potential.

Their development track should be the same as Dopirak graduated 1 year before Harvey.

Dopirak was in Mesa in 2002', Harvey was there in 2003'.
Dopirak was at Boise in 2003', Harvey is there now.
Dopirak is now at Lansing, Harvey will be there next year.

Now, it is time to compare Dopirak's 2003' Boise season and Harvey's 2004' Boise season.


183ABs 46H 4DB 13HR 24BB 58BB .240/.330/.464

36.9% XBH
12.5% BB/AB
30.2% K/AB

.272 Batted Balls in Play.

183ABs 49H 7DB 13HR 16BB 58Ks
40.8% XBH
8% BB/AB
32% K/AB

.321 Batted Balls in Play.

There were some signs that Dopirak was headed for a breakout season, 1st was the low BBIP (I'm aware of BABIP), which is an indication that there might have been a fluke given his high XBH ratio. Also, he had a decent 17.7%, which is solid for the type of hitter he is and his progression. That 17.7 has dropped to 14.1% at Lansing, his BBIP has gone up to a normal rate of .320 for the type of hitter he is.

Unfort., there are not the same signs for Harvey, I don't expect a jump in BBIP as Harvey had and if he does improve on his 24%, it won't likely be enough to make up the same difference (14.1%) Dopirak had. I also don't see a jump in XBH like Dopirak has had, any jump will be minimal.

While Harvey has been a better hitter at Boise compared to Dopirak, the signs are not as obvious for a severe jump in production.


Buliding up a player:


The moaning has been overwhelming, thoughts of sending Kyle to Iowa and/or releasing him, since Farnsworth is out options has been mentioned. All of those are wrong, the ideal situation is to go through the arbitration process, pay him the 1.75-2.0 million he will get next year, build up his stats and trade him to improve the team. I think the Cubs will not have a need for a 2.0 million middle reliever as Hawkins, Borowski, and Remlinger take up enough of the payroll. Also, the progression of Leicester and Wellemeyer has reduced the need to keep him around.

How do you build up his value? Using his 2004' numbers it is pretty obvious as he has been soild vs. bad teams and poor vs. good teams.

Kyle's #s vs. +.500 teams:
Ana 1.1IP 3H 2ER 2BB 4Ks
ATL 1.1IP 3H 1ER 1BB 3Ks
CWS 1.1IP 1H 3ER 2BB 2Ks
LA 1.1IP 3H 3ER 2BB 3Ks
Oak 2.0IP 1H 0ER 1BB 3Ks
SD 3.0IP 4H 2ER 3BB 3Ks
SF 3.0IP 3H 1ER 2BB 2Ks
STL 9.2IP 7H 5ER 4BB 11Ks

24IP 25H 17ER 17BB 31Ks 6.37ERA

Kyle's #s vs. teams .500 or worse:
ARZ 3.0IP 2H 0ER 0BB 1Ks
Cin 4.2IP 2H 1ER 0BB 3Ks
COL 2.0IP 3H 2ER 1BB 3Ks
Hou 7.1IP 7H 1ER 4BB 9Ks
MIL 5.2IP 5H 0ER 2BB 9Ks
NYM 1.0IP 1H 0ER 0BB 2Ks
PHI 3.1IP 4H 1ER 5BB 5Ks
Pit 3.0IP 4H 3ER 1BB 1Ks

30IP 28H 8ER 13BB 33Ks 2.37ERA

Obviously there is nothing that can be proven from this, but if there is any validity from this (which I doubt) then the Cubs could ideally use Farnsworth situationally to not only benefit the Cubs, but his trade value as well.

There is a market for him, sugarcoating his outings next year might potentially increase that market.