A Trip Around the Minors

Posted by Lionel on August 14, 2009.

Maybe it's about time to be focusing on what guys could impact the team in '10...
Steve Clevenger-Only 3 games and 7 AB's for Clevenger this week. He went 1 for 7 with 2 RBI's and a run. The former 7th round pick is hitting just .188 in the month of August. Despite having less than half the AB's against lefties than he does against righties, he has the same number of extra base hits and RBI's.
Bonus-Clevenger's offensive struggles have been counterbalanced by catcher Chris Robinson's strong bat. He started 4 games this week and went 9 for 16 with 4 RBI's and 3 extra base hits. On Wednesday, he went 4 for 4 with an HR. His season batting average is up to .339, which would be tops in the league if he had 37 more AB's (enough to qualify him for the batting championship).
Welington Castillo-2 for 17 for the week for Castillo. For as well as he was hitting, he's certainly headed back toward his old habits and consequently, his BA is back down to .212. He is struggling even more with runner's on base; he's hitting just .197 with 18 K's in 76 AB's.
Tyler Colvin-After snapping his 11 game hitting streak a week ago Thursday, Colvin had a mini 3 game hitting streak that made it 14 out of 15 games with a hit. That's the good news. The bad news (there always seems to be good news/bad news with Colvin) is that he's 0 for his last 9. He is sporting a healthy .292 batting average since the All Star break and .310 for the month of August.
Starlin Castro-Castro has slowed down a little bit at Tennessee. After back to back two hit games to start his Smokie career, Castro had 4 straight 0'fers. But he's back to hitting, garnering a single in each of his last 3 games. What is amazing is that he's showing great discipline at the plate; after walking only 19 times in 277 plate appearances at Daytona (or roughly 1 per 20 PA's), he's already collected 5 walks in 9 games and once per 7.6 PA's. He has also yet to K at Tennessee.
Andrew Cashner-Cashner had his worst professional outing on Saturday. In just and inning and a third, he yielded 8 earned runs. His 0.88 ERA entering the game was 3.09 when he left. He rebounded nicely yesterday, giving up one earned run in 5 innings. Despite the one run, he took his second consecutive loss of the season.
Bonus-A 21st round pick in 2007, Dustin Sasser was promoted to Tennessee just over a week ago. He gave up an earned run in his first appearance, a 3 inning relief stint, but hasn't allowed a run since. His ERA at Tennessee is currently at 1.35, down from the 1.60 he logged at Daytona.
Josh Vitters-Vitters returned from his hand injury on Sunday. He pinch hit and promptly hit a double and later scored. Since then, he's 0 for 10 with 5 K's. The Cubs are taking it slow with Vitters because they plan on playing him in the Arizona Fall League and with a Daytona team having lost 7 straight and being in the FSL cellar, I think we may see a few more off days for Vitters as the season winds down.
Jay Jackson-I hope Jackson learns something from his demotion for conduct detrimental, because that's about all that's holding him back. Another start at Daytona, another dominating performance. 7 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 walk, 4 K's, no earned runs. Unfortunately for him, the D-Cubs didn't score either, so he had a dominating no decision. He's allowed 1 earned run in 18 and 2/3 innings at Daytona (a 0.48 ERA) and has a WHIP of 0.75.
Bonus-From all signs, the 2008 draft was solid for the Cubs. The fastest guy of their class was probably Tony Campana, their 13th round pick. He started the season at Peoria, but was promoted to Daytona in May. Since his promotion, he has 48 stolen bases, good for 2nd in the FSL and especially impressive given that he was in Peoria for 18 games, stealing 11 bags there. For the year, he's 59 of 73, or over 80%.
Ryan Flaherty-Finally, Flaherty seems to be figuring things out. He was 10 of 25 for the week with 9 runs and 6 RBI's. He cranked his 16th HR of the year (putting him 5th in the league) and had a 4 for 4 game with 4 singles. He's hitting .333 for the month of August and is batting 60 points higher in the second half.
Brett Jackson-Given the history of rankings, Jackson will be a top ten prospect next year and given his on field performance, I decided to add him to ATAtM permanently for the remainder of the year. Jackson has an 8 game hitting streak in which he's hitting an even .400. On Wednesday, he added 2 HR's. His Peoria OPS is nearly 1.000.
Bonus-A frequent addition to the Bonus section this year has been Kyler Burke, part of the Rob Bowen-Michael Barrett trade. In his last 7 games, Burke is hitting .571 with 7 RBI's. He had a 2 HR night last night, giving him 11 on the season.
Hak Ju Lee-Lee hit his second HR of the season for the Hawks last night. Other than that, he had a relatively below average week for him. He was just 5 for 21 (.238) with 6 K's. In his only stolen base attempt, he was caught. He's now fallen one stolen base behind his teammate Jose Valdez for the team and the league lead. Not to pile on, but Lee still has some glove work to do; he has 19 errors in 48 games.
Bonus-The Cubs 28th best prospect, Logan Watkins, had a solid week for the Hawks. He hit safely in all 5 of his games, batting .409 with 4 runs and 3 RBI's. On the year, Watkins is hitting .316 with a .377 OBP. He's stolen 8 bags in 12 attempts.

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Cubs Roster Update

Posted by Lionel on August 12, 2009.

Trying to keep up with the roster seems like an exercise in futility, but here we go...

The Cubs selected the contract of Esmailin Caridad from Iowa on Monday. While that's not breaking news at this point, it brings the Cubs 40 man roster to 38. That becomes relevant when September 1 rolls around and the Cubs can expand their roster. You can only call up guys from your 40 man roster, so the Cubs now only have 2 spots if they want to add guys not on the 40 man roster. Chad Fox could be moved to the 60 day D.L., which would clear up a 3rd roster spot if needed.

ARam had a cortisone injection yesterday which should prevent a D.L. stint. The Cubs expect him to able able to play on Thursday. He'll play the remainder of the season in pain and he'll probably undergo surgery in the offseason, although he's already had conflicting doctor's opinions as to whether it'll help. If he does, it may mean a delayed start to spring training and/or next season.

Tedders will make a rehab start today and is expected to return to the rotation on Monday, assuming all goes well. I would assume that unless a move is made between today and Monday, Esmailin Caridad would be the odd man out and returned to Iowa.

Speaking of starters, it is expected that Z will only miss the minimum on his 15 day D.L. stint, meaning he would be ready to come off the D.L. on Tuesday. The "problem" is that that's Dempster's normal day and Wells would be scheduled to pitch the next day. I would imagine that given the time of the season and the number of injuries to the staff, Lou might consider letting Z start on Tuesday and pushing the other two back a day, moving Dempster to Wells spot, Wells to Gorzelanny's spot, and pushing Gorz out of the rotation. My guess would be that Jeff ND will be sent down when Z returns.

But as I've mentioned before, that still doesn't solve the numbers problem when David Patton must return; which has to be within 30 days after he started his rehab, or roughly August 21st. One option is that the Cubs could offer to return him to the Rockies, but at this point in the season and the fact that they are battling the Rockies in the wild card race (with the Rox needing all the relief help they can get), I doubt the Cubs want to do that.

The other option is to send someone out to Iowa. Sam Fuld is probably the only elgibile candidate, but with a semi-injured ARam and no other outfield options, are the Cubs going to want to play short-handed on the bench?

Obviously, you'd like to send down a reliever, but the 'pen is full of guys who'd have to clear waivers...except Carlos Marmol. With all the command issues Marmol has had, would the Cubs consider sending him to AAA to rest his arm for a few days and try to work on some things before bringing him back up September 1? Technically, your 25 man roster on August 31 is your playoff roster, but you can get around that if there's an "injury." I think this would be an ideal solution to the problem.

Speaking of roster expansion, I don't know how much the Cubs will add when roster expand; rather it may just be a matter of getting guys off the D.L. without making a corresponding move. Guys like Andres Blanco and Reed Johnson will come back in September.

I'm sure they'll add a couple of arms to their bullpen. It's almost certain one will be Jeff Stevens and you'd figure Mitch Atkins and/or Esmailin Caridad (assuming he gets sent down when the pitching staff normalizes). Justin Berg has pitched well for Iowa and was technically on the Cubs roster for 4 days in late July, but never reached the mound.

A couple of bullpen guys may warrant addition to the 40 man roster. Blake Parker has been the I-Cubs closer and has a 2.37 ERA. He has also been nearly as effective against lefites as righties; righties are hitting .192 off him while lefties are hitting just .226. If the Cubs are looking for a 3rd leftie out of the 'pen, John Gaub could get added to the mix. Gaub was part of the DeRo deal and has been outstanding at Iowa. In 20 innings, he has a 0.45 ERA, a 0.70 WHIP, and has struck out more than a batter per inning. Righties have 3 hits off him in about 50 plate appearances.

You'd figure the Cubs would add a 3rd catcher, but then again, they didn't add a catcher to their 40 man roster when Soto went on the D.L. Either Chris Robinson or Steve Clevenger could be added, if nothing else to allow Geo Soto to pinch hit in games where Koyie Hill starts. Robinson has better offensive numbers, but Clevenger is a better prospect, which sometimes comes into play when adding guys to your 40 man roster.

Bobby Scales may head back to bring some more depth to the infield defense, especially if the Cubs need to rest ARam. Micah Hoffpauir is almost certainly going to return to give Lou a left-handed power bat off the bench.

I don't know that the Cubs will add any outfield help. First, they'll have Hoffpauir and Fox to play the corners if need be. Second, they should get ReJo back in mid September. Third, and maybe most importantly, they don't have anyone to add. The current OF alignment in Iowa averages 32 years old.

The best possibility is adding Brad Snyder, the youngster of the group at 27. He's hit well at Iowa, batting .325 with an OPS of over 1.000. He's also left-handed. The Cubs got him off waivers from the Indians and then last spring put him through waivers to clear him off their 40 man roster. I believe they'll have to add him again this fall to avoid having him plucked in the Rule V draft.

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