Tuesday, August 31, 2004

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."


Monday, August 30, 2004

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)


Thursday, August 26, 2004

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).


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

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'.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Corey Patterson, Vernon Wells, or Alfonso Soriano:

Player A:
XBH ratio-40.3% ((2B+3B+HR)/AB)
BBIP-.301 ((H-HR)/(AB-HR-K))
.281 Avg
.340 OBP
.463 Slg
.277 EqA

Player B:
.290 Avg
.344 OBP
.475 Slg
.278 EqA

Player C:
.279 Avg
.325 OBP
.479 SLG
.268 EqA

Batter Profiles:

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.

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.

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)

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.


Monday, August 23, 2004

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.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

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.


Minor League Notes:

John Sickels, ESPN.com, on new Twin Justin Jones :

" ... The Cubs drafted Jones in the second round in 2002 ... At 6-4, he can hit 94 mph and has an excellent changeup. He posted a 2.28 ERA in 16 starts for Class A Lansing last year, and returned to that level this season but pitched less effectively, with a 3.78 ERA in 15 starts. His ratios are generally good, and being a strike-throwing 19-year-old lefty with a good arm, he has a bright future. The caveat is health: he's been shutdown several times with shoulder woes. While surgery has been avoided thus far, and the problems are not said to be serious, the risk of injury is at least as bad as for any other pitcher his age, and maybe worse. That said, this is still a trade you make if you're the Twins, adding another promising, if risky, arm to the minor league stable, while giving up a major league salary that was excess to your needs."


Monday, August 16, 2004

Grant Johnson signing breakdown:

The Chicago Cubs announced on Aug. 13 that they have agreed to terms with former Notre Dame righthanded pitcher Grant Johnson, their second-round pick (66th overall) in the 2004 June draft. Johnson had two years of eligibility remaining, after pitching for the Irish in the 2002 and '04 seasons (he missed '03 due to a shoulder injury). Johnson becomes the 40th Notre Dame player in the 10-year Paul Mainieri to move on to professional baseball, with that group including five from the 2004 squad (each was drafted in the first 14 rounds, the most Irish players ever selected that high in the same draft). Courtesy of the ND Baseball homepage

Then from Baseball America they had an article about the signing of Johnson.

In the article, it has an interesting quote from Stockstill: "One of the best development strategies is to take a breaking ball away from a young pitcher and make them throw fastball-changeup," Stockstill said. "You have to learn to pitch with that. Grant's is more of a slider, and he's shown he can pitch without it, and he's shown he's got a feel for a breaking ball."

This brings up an interesting question, is it actually true that taking away a breaking pitch is better for a pitcher?

I asked a scout from a different ML team about this and asked that question, his response was "yes, he's trying to get him to use and develop his 3rd pitch the change
and they know he has 2 pitches already".

He also said that "he's pretty good from what I hear" and "they might make him a bullpen guy..plus he's coming off of arm problems".


Sunday, August 15, 2004

Adjusting the Bullpen:

This isn't a rant on the pen or Farnsworth, I realize he has not been doing his job and has been in a mental funk during an extremely important stretch of the season. I think changes should be made and I will list them:

1)Demote Dempster for Wellemeyer, Dempster has not been used enough, even with 7 relievers, I would like to see that 7th RP get some IP, especially one that has been as productive as Wellemeyer has.

2)Adjust the bullpen roles, I think Kyle should not be used in important situations at this time and his improvement/cont. struggles would dictate how his role would be changed.

I don't think this is a bad bullpen, Dusty has not utilized it properly.

This year's ARP (Avg. Runs Prevented see Baseball Prospectus for definition, I've mentioned it several times):
Remlinger-1.3 (low b/c of one bad outing, which I'll further elaborate on)

The roles and how I would set them up:
Mercker-Dusty's version of a LOOGY
Leicester-6th/7th inning/RH specialist
Wellemeyer-6th/7th inning/RH specialist
Rusch-Long relief/2nd LOOGY
Farnsworth-1 inning stints in situations of little importance

About Remlinger, if you take away his one bad outing against STL of 0.1IP 5ER 1ER 3BBs (this was orig. brought up by Tim at NSBB.com), his line would look like 19.1IP 14H 1ER 0HR 8BB 16Ks, 0.46 ERA. This is why I would like to see him used in set-up while Borowski rehabs.

It is even more interesting when looking at last year's ARP, this year's team actually has a higher ARP, it just hasn't been as obvious.

Farnsworth has had a drop of 11.8 runs
Borowski has had a drop of 22.7 runs
Wellemeyer has had a 15.7 run improvement

If you consider Borowski/Farnsworth as the CL/SU of last year's pen, they had a combined ARP of 24.8, this year the combo of Borowski, Hawkins, and Farnsworth have an ARP of 1.1, a drop of 23.7 runs.

On the other end of the spectrum, in 03' the 6 remaining relivers had an ARP of -27.5, while the other 6 relievers in 04' have an ARP of 17, a 44+ run difference.

The other 6 relievers used in each year were:




Friday, August 13, 2004

Cubs acquire Eckenstahler:

Not much of a big story for most Cubs fans, for me it is quite a big story. We were teammates in HS (ACHS 95'), faced him in LL, had his father coach me in FB at the age of 12 and followed him progress from HS to now.

I've always been surprised at how well he has progressed, in HS he was a lanky LH (6'7" 185LB) with poor control, a nice but inconsistent curve, and a temper. He was more known for his Basketball skills, going down state for 3 point competition, leading scorer Jun. and Sen. seasons. I haven't spoken to him in quite some time, I know he still spends his off-seasons in the far North suburbs. He did grow up a Cubs fan, which is always good to see.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Player comparisons

In the 2002' draft, there were some comparisons between Prince Fielder and Brian Dopirak. There was some debate as to who had more raw power between the two. Fielder was a much more polished hitter coming out of High School, Dopirak was quite raw. Let's take a quick look to see how each of them has handled Low-A.

Brian Dopirak:

12/20/83 Bats:R Throws:R

20 yo. at Low-A

411ABs 134H 262TB 29DB 0TR 33HR 37BB 97K (.301/.361/.600) 46.2% XBH

Prince Fielder:

5/09/84 Bats:L Throws:R

502ABs 157H 264TB 22DB 2TR 27HR 71BB 80K (.313/.409/.526) 32.4 XBH

Dopirak is showing why BA did rate him as having the best power in the draft, that is an amazing power ratio, his IsoP is off the charts right now. He is putting the ball into play at a .360 clip, despite what BP said he can hit the ball and has made improvements with his hitting, using all fields with power while raising his BBs and lowering his KS while advancing.

Is his ceiling as high as Fielder? Probably not, Fielder is having a very strong season at AA, while being younger than Dopirak and has a much approach at the plate.

But, it would be hard for BP to not recognize the improvements of Dopirak as me might have a legit of being the top prospect in the MWL for 2004' as Fielder was last year.


Monday, August 09, 2004

Trying to correct Sosa:

Sosa is in a slump, has been for quite some time, I think is a problem compounded by the Cubs, not helped.

1st off, most slumps are mental, the easiest way to tell if a player is in a slump are items caused by the thought process heading into a pitch. The easiest one is pitch recognition, is a player expanding his zone and/or getting a late read on a pitch? Most players being their swing when the ball is halfway, Bonds has the quickest bat since Williams, he can wait that precious 1/10th of a second to get a better read.

The last thing or resort should be to adjust a player's mechanics, I think the Cubs went straight to the mechanical side rather than looking at the mental side of the slump.

I think there were mechanical flaws to Sosa's swing before hand, his bat quickness was not in a position where he can hold the bat where he does and get away with it. I would see what would happen if Sosa did put his bat in a "closer to launch" position (typically 6-8 behind the head, angled), I think it would help get his bat in a quicker launch position since time is of the essence when looking at the process of the swing. Holding his bat in the manner he does, it takes him longer to bring the bat into a launch position followed by an tilting the bat.

Also, despite the arguments, he is standing too far away from the plate, he does not have the reach or stride to be extending him for outside pitches. 1st off, he is not able to get the sweet spot of the bat onto the ball. Most important, he is overextending, any teaching of full extension is an incorrect one, when you fully extend your arms on a swing, you are slowing your bat. Ideally, as a RH batter, you'd like to have a flexed left arm at the point of contact at the position Sosa is currently at, even in a closed stance, he is not able to have "absolutes" of the swing, because he has to cheat to catch up and limit proper bat lag.

Also, he has closed his stance, while every hitter has a different stance and none are 100% right or wrong, it appears as Sosa begins his stride he does have proper center of gravity throughout the entire swing, combine that with his overswing and he has no balance from head to toe, hitting starts at the balls of your feet.

Basically, what I would do.

1)Bring him closer to the plate.
2)Open his stance where the feet are parallel again.
3)Put his bat in a quicker launch position.
4)Build up his confidence.

At this stage, these changes would likely lead to an improvement of where he is at currently.


Sunday, August 08, 2004

Thank You, Greg Maddux!

If god created a financial analyst, he would have sculpted his body from Greg Maddux. What an amazing run, excellence is based from results not appearence.

A look at the Earned Runs allowed in his 300 wins shows some amazing stats.

0 ER-87 times
1 ER-80 times
2 ER-82 times
3 ER-28 times
4 ER-17 times
5 ER-4 times
6 ER-1 time
7 ER-1 time

83% of the wins he had 2 earned runs or less.
29% of the wins he allowed no earned runs.

This is a model of pitcher who was outstanding, I think Wins are overrated when evaluating a pitcher, but he has been truly amazing. Any underestimation of what he has done over his career based on the quality of his 24 teammates is completely incorrect.

(Yes, I am aware that I did not want him to sign with the Cubs especially for the years and the dollar amount that he did, I stand by that and still feel that way.)


Minor League Notes:

" ... The Cubs are being safe rather than sorry and have shut down right-handed pitcher Angel Guzman for the remainder of the season. The contention is that Guzman didn't reinjure himself, but he didn't pitch well in the minors after he missed a start and tried to come back. Rather than risk serious injury, the rehabbing Guzman will abbreviate what had been a hoped-for rebound from his surgery July 8, 2003, to repair a labrum tear." (Chicago Sun Times)


Friday, August 06, 2004

Better Sept. or Better Season?

For teams in the post-season is it better to have a better last 30 days or a better overall season?

I have always believed the post-season is a crapshoot and the team playing best towards the end of the year will typically do better than a team that wasn't doing as well the last 30 days, but better overall during the season.

I'll be looking at the last 3 post-seasons (21 series).

In 2001'

ATL vs. Houston

Houston had the better overall record, while ATL had the better last 30 days.

ATL defeated Houston


STL had the better overall record and the better Sept.

Arizona defeated STL

Clev vs. SEA

Seattle had the better overall record and the better Sept.

Seattle defeated Clev.

NYY vs. Oak

Oak had the better overall record and the better Sept/

NYY defeated Oak

Ariz vs. ATL

Arizona had the better Sept. and the better overall record.

Arizona defeated ATL

NYY vs. Seattle

Seattle had the better Sept. and the better overall season.

NYY defeated Sea


New York had the better overall record and the better Sept.

AZ defeated NYY

Overall: Teams with a better Sept. were 3-4, teams with a better overall record were 2-5.



Arizona had the better overall record while STL had the better Sept. record.

STL defeated AZ

SF vs. ATL

Atlanta had the better overall record while SF had the better Sept.

SF defeated ATL

Minn. vs. Oak

Oakland had the better Sept. and the better overal record.

Minn. defeated Oak

NYY vs. Anaheim

New York had the better in Sept. and overall record.

Anaheim defeated NYY

STL vs. SF

STL had the better overall record and better Sept.

SF defeated STL

Minn. vs. Anaheim

Anaheim had the better Sept. and overall record.

Anaheim defeated Minn.

SF vs. Anaheim

Anaheim had the better overall record while SF had the better Sept.

Anaheim defeated SF

Overall: the teams with better record went 2-5 and the teams with the better Sept. went 3-4.


Cubs vs. ATL

ATL had a better overall record, the Cubs had a better Sept.

Cubs defeated ATL.

FLA vs. SF

Florida had a better Sept, SF had a better overall record.

Florida defeated SF

NYY vs. Minn

NYY had a better Sept. and a better overall record.

NYY defeated Minn.

Bos. vs. Oakland

Oakland had the better record, while Boston had the better Sept.

Boston defeated Oakland

Florida vs. Cubs

They had the same record in Sept. (19-8) and Florida had the better overall record.

Florida defeated the Cubs.

NYY vs. Boston

NYY had the better overall record and better Sept.

NYY defeated Boston

NYY vs. Florida

Florida had the better Sept. and NYY had the better overall record.

Florida defeated NYY


Teams that had a better Sept. than their opponent 11-9.
Teams that had a better overall record than their opponent 7-14.

Difference of 4.5 games.

Conclusion: Both of my assumptions were correct, the post-season is a crapshoot as 33% of the series were won by teams who had the better overall record going in the post-season and teams that did better in Sept. did better than teams with better overall records.


Monday, August 02, 2004

Idiot of the Day:

Courtesy of an unknown member of the Cardinals about the Cubs acquiring Nomar, "How does that happen? It seems like someone's always looking out for the Cubs. I don't get it."

What a truly amazing statement, "It seems like someone's always looking out for the Cubs", this basically implies that MLB is fixed, phony, and a sham of what it appears to be. The concept that one of the members of the MLBPA, who makes his living in the same environment that he is accusing of the worst possible charge towards a sports organization.

I'm not going to make any assumptions on who it might have said it, there are past instances that implicate some more than others, but this is an embarrassment to the game of an extreme degree.

This article was courtesy of the Sun-Times.


2 Questions about Nomar and the Cubs:

1)Many analysts had the Cubs as the favorites to win the NL Central & the success of the Cards has washed away any chance of that happening at this point, but had the Cubs been in the same position as STL currently resides in, would the Cubs have gone after Nomar?

I don't think the Cubs would have gone after Nomar if the Cubs had a comfortable lead on 8/2/04, the hole at SS would still have been there, but the supposed need for it, would not have been.

2)Knowing what you know now, are the Cubs a better team now w/Nomar than what you had projected at the start of the season? I'm not talking record-wise, I'm speaking of talent. Are the Cubs a better team with the progression of Ramirez, Barrett, Zambrano, Clement, Wellemeyer, and Leicester and the addition of Nomar, compared to a team that would have a healthy Wood, Prior, Sosa, & Borowski?

I don't know how to answer this, there is an answer, I like the squad with Nomar, but the loss of JoBo and the questions of Prior, I'm not sure this team has a greater chance of a progressing far into the post-season than it did at the start of the season. It is obviously a much better team than it was before Saturday.

I would love to see some feedback on these two questions.


Iowa defeated Las Vegas 3-2 yesterday as Miter pitched well in his no decision, Miter pitched 7IP 8H 2ER 2BB 5Ks, his ERA is now at 2.79. As poorly as he pitched, he reminds a legit possibility if the Cubs do not re-sign Clement. Kelton hit his 15th HR going 1-3 with a BB (.255), Hubbard went 0-3 with a BB, now hitting .332, he won't make the 40 man roster, so he won't be a Sept.call-up, but would be more useful than Goodwin. Russ Johnson went 2 for 3, Dubois went 0 for 4 (.301) in the win.

West Tenn lost to Mobile 10-8 as Brownlie suffered his worst loss of the season going 3.1IP 8H 7ER 1BB 3Ks, his ERA went up to 3.42. The offense did provide some spark as Greenberg has made an easy time of it early on since his promotion. Adam went 2 for 3 2R, 2RBIs, HR, HBP, SF, not likely much more than a 4th OF'er if he reaches the majors, Greenberg has the chance to be useful, slightly stronger than a slap hitter. Lewis went 2 for 5 with his 25th double (.323), now the highest rated MI in the system, he will have somebig shoes to fill, since the 2B in front of him are in their 30's and only one should be back next year (hope. Walker). Craig went 1 for 4 with a DB (.279), Hoffpauir went 2 for 4 with a DB, and one of the bigger suprises Soto cont. to hit in a pitcher's League going 1 for 4 with 2 RBIs, Soto is young for AA and is above avg. defensively at this stage. The other main suprise besides Lewis and Soto is Cedeno, gifted and talented, he went 1 for 4, now hitting .289.

Daytona was defeated by Vero Beach 8-6 as Pie had a strong game going 2 for 4 with a BB, now hitting .314, his increase in BBs and XBHs, while being one of the youngest in the FSL is what we should come to expect. Salas had a strong game going 2 for 5, 2RBIs and very quietly Buck Coats is creeping that avg. up, hopefully by the end of the month, he can get to .280, his BBs are concerning as they have dropped sign., but he has decreased the errors and is young for the League. Given his style of hitting, he will need to draw BBs and improve defensively to project as a ML regular. JJ Johnson went 1 for 4 (.308) with his 6th HR, I'm glad he has had that type of season after consecutive poor seasons. Anderson Tavares took the loss going 4IP 4H 6R 4ER 3BB 1K 3HRs, the system's new top rated LHP went 1IP of scoreless ball allowing 2BBs while striking out 3.

Lansing lost to SB 10-7, if Lansing scores 7 runs, Dopirak is going to have a part in that, Dopirak went 2 for 5 with his amazing and league/organization leading 33rd HR, while hitting .306 on the season. Walker went 2 for 5 with his 44th SB, McQuade went 1 for 4, TR, and a BB, Fox went 2 for 4 with his 9th HR (.265). Marquez went 3 for 4, now hitting .289 on the season. Ferreras and Fischer combined to go 4.2IP 11H 9ER 3BB 4Ks in the loss.

Boise defeated Everett 10-6 as Montanez cont'd his charge in the NWL going 2 for 4 with 5BIs and his 8th HR, he is now hitting .357. Harvey had a strong game going 1 for 4 with his 9th HR (.266), he is further along than Dopirak at this stage last year, while having similar power and is a better athlete. Richie has been hot lately going 2 for 4, his avg. is now up to .336, known as defensive specialist out of FSU, the offense, even though he should be further, is looking awfully good. Rios had a strong game at SS going 3 for 4. The pitcher was predom. Shaver as the highest selected pitcher in this year's draft went 4IP 0H 0R 1BB 1K, lowering his ERA to 2.04.


Sunday, August 01, 2004

Nomah to the 2nd city:

Not much more can be said, the Cubs have a great trade in the short-term, potential to be great in the long-term, and did so without hurting the 25 man roster.

Just a quick number/comparison, little validity/high entertainment:

In 2004', Nomar has a RC (RC=RUNS CREATED Bill James's formulation for run contribution from a variety of batting and baserunning events.) of 6.7 per 9, which is simply if you had 9 Nomars, that line-up would score 6.7 per game. Alex Gonzalez has had a 2.14 RC/9 in 2004', that equates to a 307% increase going from A-Gone to Nomar. To put that into perspective, Bonds has an RC/9 of just over 19 and is 307% higher than someone with a RC/9 of around 6.25, the player who has a RC/9 of 6.25 in 2004' is....... Michael Tucker. How is that for looking at a glass half-full.

For more entertainment purposes, here is a 1993' scouting report on Nomar:

Scouting report on Nomar Garciaparra

Weight 185
DOB: 7-23-73
Hometown: Whittier, CA
Position: Shortstop
Team:Orlean Cardinals

Hometown: Whittier, CA
College: Georgia Tech (5/95)

RANGE 50 55



Loose, wiry frame. Bit on the lanky side. Very lean build with room for him to fill out.

Exel. defensive instincts. Approaches ball very well.
Exel. hands and feet. Very good lower body agility.
Loose arm with Avg. to Occ. Plus strength when needed, as well as plus carry. Handles wood bat extremely well.
Excellent plate coverage. Uses entire field with plus batspeed and compact swing. Very aggressive with bat.
Consistent line drive contact. Excellent all-around instincts.

slings ball. Long arm action make off-balance throw difficult. Bit slow getting rid of ball. Lacks some smoothness in actions.

Liked this player more each time I saw him. Lacks some of the glider type actions usual for this position, but this player can play. Makes all of the routine plays at SS, as well as range type plays in both directions. Plus runner, plus bat potential with AVG.
HR possibility from a premium position will make him
into a high draft pick in 1994. Gamer with alot of talent.

OFP: 58
REPORT DATE: 7/09/93 by Jim Howard

Speaking of Scouting Reports, here is the write-up on Matt Murton from BA:

Matt Murton, of

Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 226.
Drafted: Georgia Tech, 2003 (1st round supplemental).
Signed by: Rob English.

Background: Murton and fellow 2003 first-rounder David Murphy teamed to win back-to-back Cape Cod League championships with the Wareham Gatemen in 2001-02. Chad Durbin completed the 2002 Wareham outfield. Initially projected as a mid-first-rounder, Murton lasted 32 picks in June because he slumped as a junior at Georgia Tech.

Strengths: Murton got pull conscious and lengthened his swing last spring, but he hits better with wood bats because he shortens his stroke and lets his power come naturally. The Cape’s 2002 home run derby winner, he has more pop than any hitter in the system. Boston makes all of its players in Class A or below keep notebooks on hitting, something Murton already did on his own. He runs well for his size and is a four-tool player.

Weaknesses: Murton’s weak throwing arm relegates him to left field. His swing has more effort than Murphy’s does. If he gets much bigger or stronger, his speed and range likely will dip below average.

The Future: Murton will reunite with Murphy once again in 2004, this time in high Class A. If all goes as expected, they’ll play together again, this time in Boston, by mid-2006.

Here is an interview Murton did with Red Sox Nation.net

"RSN: I recently saw a quote that said: “Matt Murton lives baseball.” Is this an accurate assessment?

MM: Yes, I think that’s fair to say. I enjoyed all sports growing up, but baseball is the one that’s always stood out the most. I’ve always loved the history of the game, and appreciate the things that make it unique -- things like 27 outs and no clock.

RSN: You went to Georgia Tech, as did Jason Varitek and Nomar Garciaparra. Have you had a chance to meet either of them?

MM: Varitek used to come down to the school once in a while, including for the alumni game. I talked to him a bit in spring training, too. We Georgia Tech guys like to take care of each other when we can.

RSN: Have you talked to him about what it’s like to play in Boston?

MM: No, although I did talk about it with Kevin Millar. He said that while he may be biased, Fenway is probably the best place to play anywhere. The fans are amazing. They know the game, and the place is always packed.

RSN: Have you been to Fenway Park, either to a game or to work out?

MM: I played in the Cape League, so yes. I made it to five or six games, and I got to take batting practice there once. It was a great experience.

RSN: You’re known for your power. Are you primarily a pull hitter, or do you drive the ball to all fields?

MM: A lot of my power is from left center to right center. I do pull the ball, but when I’m swinging well I’m keeping my hands in and driving the ball up the middle. That’s really important in handling breaking balls and changes.

RSN: What are your thoughts about hitting in Fenway, and the Green Monster?

MM: I think you need to bring a good approach to the plate, regardless of where you’re playing. You can’t be thinking too much about the park or its dimensions. You need to look for good pitches to hit, and the rest will take care of itself.

RSN: You should be moving up to AA Portland fairly soon. Are you aware that they have a 37-foot-high Green Monster of their own?

MM: I am, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity when it comes. It will be a chance to learn to play balls off the wall. Getting accustomed to that will help if I make it to Fenway someday.

RSN: While you were in the Cape League, Peter Gammons compared you as a hitter to Edgar Martinez. Do you think that’s a fair comparison?

MM: It was nice to have him say it. Martinez has been an amazing hitter for a long time, so it was flattering. I understand what he meant, but I have a long way to go to be mentioned in the same breath as Edgar. As for Gammons himself, he’s amazing.

RSN: How so?

MM: He’s just so great for baseball. His knowledge of the game is incredible. He comes up and talks to you, and knows all about you and your teammates -- and this is on the Cape and in the minors.

RSN: You played two years for Wareham in the Cape Cod League. David Murphy, Chad Durbin and Iggy Suarez were teammates of yours there, and you’re all together in Sarasota now. Talk about the Cape and your relationship with those guys.

MM: The Cape was a super experience. And it’s great for the four of us to have played amateur ball together and then move on to the pro ranks together. As a matter of fact, Durbin and Murphy are actually my rommates down here.

RSN: Murphy, who was the team’s top pick last year, is on the DL right now. How’s he doing?

MM: He’s doing well. He’s rehabbing in Ft. Myers and should be seeing some live action soon.

RSN: You played in Lowell last summer after being drafted. What was it like playing in the North East?

MM: Lowell is awesome. Having big crowds cheering for us in the low minors really gave a taste of how serious and passionate Red Sox fans are.

RSN: Two of your teammates in Sarasota are having strong years: Jeremy West and Jon Papelbon. Tell us about them.

MM: Jon really stands out as a competitor. He doesn’t mess around, either. He doesn’t nibble; he tries to get ahead in the count and bury guys. Last year he was on a pitch count, but now he’s really getting a chance to shine, and he is.

RSN: How about West?

MM: Jeremy has a good approach, and is a competitor, too. He works really hard. He’s strict with his diet and workouts, because he really wants to succeed.

RSN: Your manager, Todd Claus, says that you have a great work ethic yourself. Is this a big part of what you’re all about?

MM: The Red Sox have invested in me, so my job is to put out a maximum effort. I take pride in my work ethic. The will to win is great, but the will to practice to win is greater. That’s the way I like to look at it.

RSN: Talk about some of the instructors you’ve worked with in the system, including Carl Yastremski and Dwight Evans.

MM: They’ve both helped me. In the cage Yaz talks about line drives and an up-the-middle approach. Evans has worked with me on my pre-swing routine, staying relaxed and focused.

RSN: It has to be a thrill to get instruction from guys like that.

MM: It is, and it’s awesome that they’re working with us -- giving so much back to the game. I have to mention David Howard, my hitting coach down here, too. He’s really helped me a lot. And Lynn Jones -- he’s had a real impact.

RSN: Tell us about home run derbies. You seem to be making a habit of winning those.

MM: I’ve won three. The first was when I was 16, in the Connie Mack World Series. The most recent was at the Florida State League All-Star game last month. Getting the opportunity is fun.

RSN: Any secret to your success?

MM: I suppose intensity and focus, like in most things. So much of success is between your ears. And, of course, you need to be hot at the right time.

RSN: Tell us about getting drafted by the Red Sox.

MM: It was a thrill to get drafted, period. And having it be Boston was special. Of all the teams in baseball, it’s among the best places to play. I started learning as much as I could about the team as soon as I was picked. I’m very happy to have an opportunity to play in a Red Sox uniform. I want to work hard and play there some day-- I want to help them win.

RSN: A big part of playing in Boston is the rivalry with the Yankees. What are your thoughts on that?

MM: From what I watched last year, it’s amazing. It’s almost like it’s been taken to another level.

RSN: How about in the minors? You play against Tampa, the Yankees’ Florida State League affiliate.

MM: It starts in the minor leagues, sure. You see those pinstripes and you turn it up a notch.

RSN: Before I let you go, tell me a little about what makes Matt Murton tick. Besides baseball, what’s important to you?

MM: Family is important. Friends. Church. I think you need to start with a good foundation. It’s important to be real with people, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a ballplayer or work at the market. You should be thankful for what you’re given in life.

RSN: Thanks, Matt. Red Sox Nation wishes you the best of luck with your career.

MM: You’re welcome. It was a pleasure talking with you."

What can't be forgotten are the prospects needed to make this wonderful trade, here are reports that myself and DJ did before the season began:

Justin Jones:

Felix Pie opened eyes as the youngest position player in the league, but it was one of the league's youngest starting pitchers that emerged as one of baseball's top prospects. At 18 years old, Justin Jones wowwed the Midwest League. He posted a .215 batting average against, a 2.28 ERA, and 11.04 K/9; the latter two would have made him top 5 in the MWL with more innings. After all was said and done, Jones was rated the 3rd best prospect in the MWL and it's 2nd best pitcher. Pretty good season for a guy who was slated to start at short-season Boise in 2003.

Jones can flat out pitch. He throws a fastball that tops out 94 mph, which projects to add a few more ticks when he becomes a man. His best pitch is perhaps his 12-to-6 curve, which he willingly throws in any count with very good command. If that's not enough, Jones has a changeup well beyond his years which projects to be his 3rd plus pitch. He also throws an occassional splitter just for fun. In addition to 3 ML quality pitches, Jones has shown decent if not very good control. He keeps the ball in the park, only giving up 1 HR in 126 professional innings. In 27 career starts, he has only given up more than 3 runs only once. And he also hit 7 batters last year, which shows he has the toughness to use both sides of the plate.

Jones has the most projectable body in the system. At just 19 years old, Justin has room to grow taller and stronger. He maintained pinpoint control of his fastball, while gaining a few ticks in 02. The key for him will be if he can put up these eyepopping numbers over an entire season. Jones was shutdown for the season on August 5th with a tired arm, after suffering the same ailment earlier in the year. Being just barely out of high school, it's understandable that his stamina needs work. He has a ton of time to work on getting his arm strong enough to start 20+ games and throw over 100 innings in the minor leagues to get himself ready for a 6-month major league season. He will start 2004 at Daytona, with a chance to get a taste of AA before the season ends, if healthy.

Brendan Harris:

Brendan Harris burst onto the scene with a phenomenal 2002. He put up eye-popping numbers of .328, .395, .532, with 15 HR, 39 doubles, 7 triples, and 17 stolen bases. Understandably, Harris suffered a dropoff in '03, but still put up very respectable numbers. His HRs dropped from 15 to 5, average fell nearly 50 points, and his steals became a non-factor. Still, Harris was right on par with his doubles, triples, and BB/K ratio.

And what a strange year 2003 was for Brendan. He went from splitting time at 2B and 3B to a short-lived experiment at catcher. From there he went back to splitting time at 2B and 3B to the Cubs #1 3B prospect after Kelton's position switch. After the trade to bring in Aramis Ramirez, Harris became the #1 2B prospect when the deal included Bobby Hill. For the first time since being drafted, Harris should have the benefit of focusing primarily on 1 position. Brendan is more polished at 3B defensively, but has the ability to be above average at 2B. He has decent range, the best IF arm in the system, and good, soft hands. The only thing he lacks right now is the experience with the double play pivot, which should come with consistent play there.

Brendan Harris is exactly the type of player the Cubs need. He doesn't have the speed of a prototypical leadoff hitter, but would be the perfect #2 hitter for the Cubs. He's patient, a tough out, and can flat out rake. He has a minor league career batting average of .302 , an OBP in the .370's, and a solid .71 BB/K ratio. Harris is a natural gap hitter, who has averaged 36.5 doubles in his 2 full seasons as a Cub. The potential is there for some of those doubles to turn into HRs, as Harris has played in a couple of tough pitcher's leagues. The Cubs have 2B covered in the majors with Mark Grudzielanek and Todd Walker, but both are in their contract years. Which means Harris will likely get a shot in 2005 to become the Cubs everyday second baseman. Brendan should enjoy hitting in the PCL, a league with a enough gaps and altitude to boost his XB numbers even more. Unfortunately though, he has suffered a setback, as he will miss 6-12 weeks after having arthoscopic knee surgery. When he is ready to play, Harris should hit near the top of a loaded Iowa lineup which will also feature top prospects, Jason Dubois, David Kelton, and Nic Jackson. I expect Brendan to put together another solid season and become the Cubs 2B and #2 hitter for a long time.

Francis Beltran:

Francis Beltran seems to be somewhat of the forgotten man in the Cubs system. Just 2 years removed from being rated the Cubs 4th best prospect, Beltran has done little statistically to lose his prospect status. However, he lost a lot of time in 2003 due to triceps tendonitis. Beltran went to the DL in June, but was brought back prematurely a month later, effectively ending his season. This may have been a blessing in disguise, as the Cubs were in danger of losing Francis to Pittsburgh in the Lofton/Ramirez trade. When he did pitch, Frank wasn't quite himself. He gave up a lot more hits/IP and for the first time in a while, wasn't striking out a man per inning. However, he redeemed himself and proved his health with an outstanding Dominican winter league showing. Beltran threw 10.2 innings for Licey, giving up just 5 hits and striking out 12. He also saved 3 of the 6 games in the Caribbean World Series to earn MVP honors.

When healthy, Beltran still has the best fastball and slider anywhere in the minor league system. His fastball is near unhittable, topping out at 98 mph with great movement. His slider bites low and away from RH hitters and comes to the plate in the upper 80s. Beltran had a shot to win a bullpen job in 2003, but the Cubs wanted him to go to Iowa and work on his control (which allowed 12 BB/9 in his brief 2002 callup). He will never have pinpoint control, but should once again get a shot to win a job in spring training. This will be a big year for Frank. He is just 23, but has been around the system forever. He needs to stake a claim to a roster spot soon, because all the talent is coming up fast behind him

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